"The Invention of Hugo Cabret," Vocabulary from Part 1

"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick is filled with a love of the movies and the spirit of invention as a young boy meets the father of modern motion pictures in a French train station and his life is changed forever.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1, Part 2

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. agitated
    troubled emotionally and usually deeply
    The old man looked agitated today.
  2. furious
    marked by extreme anger
    He was furious with himself for being caught.
  3. snatch
    grasp hastily or eagerly
    Still holding on to the boy’s arm, the old man snatched the notebook away, set it down out of Hugo’s reach, opened it, and flipped through the pages.
  4. shudder
    tremble convulsively, as from fear or excitement
    The old man shuddered at the sound of the breaking toy.
  5. scavenge
    collect discarded or refused material
    The jars sat on shelves made from scavenged planks he had found inside the walls of the station.
  6. rickety
    inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
    Under his rickety bed lay a pile of Hugo’s drawings.
  7. peer
    look searchingly
    Peering out through the numbers, Hugo spied the old man again, alone in his toy booth at the end of the hallway, looking through the pages of Hugo’s notebook.
  8. attend
    take charge of or deal with
    He could tell it wouldn’t need to be wound for another day or two, so Hugo kept going, until all twenty-seven clocks in the station had been attended to, just the way his uncle had taught him.
  9. emerge
    come out into view, as from concealment
    He emerged through the golden doors into the dark streets of Paris.
  10. decrepit
    worn and broken down by hard use
    They soon arrived at a decrepit apartment building across from the graveyard.
  11. summon
    ask to come
    Hugo, he said, “Don’t you know that the sound of clicking boot heels can summon ghosts?"
  12. revealing
    showing or making known
    Not knowing what else to do, he walked to a cluttered pile of boxes in the corner of his room and moved them to the side, revealing a hiding place in the wall.
  13. sole
    single and isolated from others
    The sole purpose of the machines was to fill people with wonder, and they succeeded.
  14. artificial
    not arising from natural growth
    It was as if the magicians had created artificial life, but the secret was always in the clockworks.
  15. restless
    lacking physical or mental ease
    Later, when he visited his father at his clock shop, Hugo watched him carefully, and then when he grew restless he made little mechanical animals out of the extra bits and pieces lying around.
  16. intricate
    having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
    The machine was so intricate, so complicated, that he almost got dizzy looking at it.
  17. obsessed
    having excessive or compulsive concern with something
    Meanwhile, Hugo’s father grew obsessed with getting the automaton to work.
  18. optimistic
    emphasizing or displaying the positive
    They remained optimistic that it could be fixed, and they talked about what the automaton might write once it was working again.
  19. apprentice
    someone who works for an expert to learn a trade
    “You’ll be my apprentice,” he vaguely heard his uncle saying as they walked.
  20. accusation
    an assertion that someone is guilty of a fault or offence
    There it was, like an accusation, reminding Hugo that everything in his life had been destroyed.
  21. debris
    the remains of something that has been destroyed
    Hugo took a deep breath, went back, and cleared away the charred debris.
  22. dread
    causing fear or terror
    The automaton was heavy and in several pieces, but he picked it up and, not having anywhere else to go, returned to the dreaded station.
  23. misshapen
    so badly formed or distorted as to be ugly
    He stared at the misshapen pieces of metal and was thankful that his uncle still hadn’t returned.
  24. attachment
    a feeling of affection for a person or an institution
    “What is your attachment to this notebook?” he demanded as he shook Hugo.
  25. lull
    make calm or still
    The steady rhythm of the clock lulled Hugo to sleep, but he dreamed of fire and woke up with a start.
  26. cavernous
    being or suggesting a large dark enclosed space
    The coffee was hot, and as Hugo let it cool, he looked around the cavernous station at all the people rushing by with a thousand different places to go.
  27. resentful
    full of or marked by indignant ill will
    One moment he felt hopeful that he’d get his notebook back, the next he felt angry and resentful.
  28. deftly
    with dexterity; in a dexterous manner
    He rubbed the buttons on his jacket and deftly pocketed the tiny mechanisms he wanted.
  29. captivate
    attract; cause to be enamored
    As he watched the old man play, he saw things that captivated him.
  30. array
    an impressive display
    Inside, clear black-and-white diagrams revealed what seemed like an endless array of card tricks, many of which Hugo had seen the old man do.
  31. guidance
    something that provides direction or advice
    For the first time, Hugo had fixed something on the mechanical man without guidance from the notebook!
  32. investigate
    conduct an inquiry of
    Had the Station Inspector begun investigating and found out that Hugo’s uncle was gone?
  33. nib
    the writing point of a pen
    The mechanical man was finally holding a brand-new handmade pen with a specially cut metal nib.
  34. translate
    change from one form or medium into another
    With the proper instruction, his talent for machines translated perfectly to magic tricks.
  35. dexterity
    adroitness in using the hands
    It wasn’t just the understanding of machinery, it was the dexterity, the talent within his fingers themselves, as if they automatically knew what to do.
  36. calibrate
    make fine adjustments for optimal measuring
    A cascade of perfect movements, with hundreds of brilliantly calibrated actions, coursed through the mechanical man.
  37. contraption
    a device or control that is very useful for a particular job
    Two little hammerlike contraptions came down and trailed along the edges of the notched disks, rising and falling as the disks steadily turned.
  38. affect
    act physically on
    The shoulder affected the elbow, and as the elbow engaged, it sent other movements in a chain reaction down into the wrist and, finally, the hand.
  39. random
    lacking any definite plan or order or purpose
    The children tried desperately to read it, but there were no letters, no words, no sentences, just random, disconnected markings.
  40. accumulate
    collect or gather
    Isabelle stayed where she was, watching as these markings accumulated on the page, one after the other.

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