Chapters 13–24

Inspired by her father's fantastical stories, Minli sets off on a journey to change her family's fortune.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. swerve
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
    As the dragon ducked underneath branches and swerved through trees, Minli understood why most dragons flew.
  2. pang
    a sudden sharp feeling
    And she felt a pang of pity as she imagined the dragon, alone, unable to fly, endlessly struggling between trees and branches.
  3. canopy
    a covering (usually of cloth) that shelters an area
    Their disappointment at not having found Minli forced them to admit their exhaustion, and they had slept under the canopy of tree branches during the day, leaving their silver goldfish as a guardian.
    A canopy can also be the uppermost layer in a forest formed by the crowns of trees, which is what is described in this example sentence. Note that a good portion of the words used in this story deal with plants, flowers, and the growing of vegetation, even if at times they are used figuratively. Compare with sprout, bloom, blossom, and flourish.
  4. sprout
    produce buds or branches; germinate
    Stories of their happiness spread like seeds in the wind, sprouting and blooming everywhere, until finally even young Magistrate Tiger heard of them.
    The word is used figuratively to connect to the people's farming life, but it refers to the growth of gossip.
  5. bloom
    produce or yield flowers
    Stories of their happiness spread like seeds in the wind, sprouting and blooming everywhere, until finally even young Magistrate Tiger heard of them.
    Like "sprout" the word "bloom" is used figuratively. The two verbs are almost synonymous, but "sprout" refers to the beginning of something growing (whether it's vegetation or gossip), while "bloom" refers to a later stage of development that's often connected to more beauty (which could come in the form of flowers or more details in the stories).
  6. emissary
    someone sent to represent another's interests
    So he called his emissary to him and presented him with an empty, heavily encrusted chest and a company of soldiers.
  7. esteem
    the condition of being honored
    The adults are loving and faithful, the children are gracious and respectful, and all honor the grandfather with an esteem that rivals the gods.
    Compare with "reverence" in the list for Chapters 1-12. The example sentence describes the esteem as one that "rivals the gods"--which makes it synonymous with "reverence." But "esteem" is usually less powerful than "reverence" since it can describe an attitude of admiration or approval between strangers.
  8. covet
    wish, long, or crave for
    He began to covet the family's happiness.
  9. wry
    humorously sarcastic or mocking
    “Well”—the dragon looked down at the fish with a wry smile—“either one of us would be a very strange relative to you, Fish."
  10. vast
    unusually great in size or amount or extent or scope
    We all know that somewhere in one of the rivers of the land, there is a great and powerful waterfall; it is so high and so vast that it is as if water were gushing from a cut in the heavens.
    Compare with "enormous" in this list. One difference is that "vast" is more appropriate for large spaces, like a countryside.
  11. enormous
    extraordinarily large in size or extent or degree
    An enormous wall, like a giant patchwork curtain of stone, surrounded the thousands of houses of the city.
    Compare with "vast" in this list. Try switching the adjectives to see how much that changes the rhythm of the sentence and the impact of the description.
  12. gruff
    deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or emotion
    “Watch out, Little Mouse,” a gruff man said behind her, his baskets of cabbages driving her into the crowd.
  13. daunting
    discouraging through fear
    It would be a daunting task just to enter the Inner City, much less find the palace and the king.
  14. shabby
    showing signs of wear and tear
    And Minli looked down a muddy path that led to a shabby, rickety hut that looked as if the first strong wind would blow it away.
  15. mocking
    expressing contempt or ridicule
    It was funny how the buffalo boy’s whole manner changed when he talked about her—his vaguely mocking attitude and tough expression washed away and he lit up like a lantern.
  16. abundance
    the property of a more than adequate quantity or supply
    "She said that the king might be at the Market of Green Abundance tomorrow morning, but you are going to have to find him yourself.”
  17. groan
    an utterance expressing pain or disapproval
    Before long, everyone’s mouths were full of soft, sweet peach flesh and groans of delight.
  18. scarcely
    almost not
    The words flashed in her mind and Minli could scarcely breathe.
  19. intricate
    having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
    Intricate dragons and multicolored clouds that matched the designs of the gold bracelet he wore were embroidered on his robes and glittered in the light.
  20. kowtow
    a Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead
    At his glance, Minli shrank to the ground in a humble kowtow.
  21. commune
    share or interact intimately with
    "However, I do feel the wish to commune with the moon tonight.”
  22. savory
    pleasing to the sense of taste
    The king took out the plates of delicate pink shrimp dumplings, savory noodles and pork, dragon’s beard bean sprouts, emerald green chives, and a bowl of white jade tofu soup.
  23. bestow
    give as a gift
    "The Book has bestowed some extra qualities to it, though they will be as useless to you as the original paper would have been."
  24. unprincipled
    lacking moral scruples
    “It is, actually,” the king said, “simply proof of my ancestor’s rudeness, his unprincipled anger and ruthless greed."
  25. exile
    expel from a country
    He exiled him and his officials from the city and harmony returned.
Created on November 8, 2013 (updated April 25, 2019)

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