"Inside Out and Back Again," Vocabulary from Part 3

Fleeing to America to escape the Vietnam War, Hà and her family end up in Alabama, where a strange new culture that they must adapt to awaits them in "Inside Out and Back Again" -- a novel written in verse by Thanhha Lai.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. giddy
    having or causing a whirling sensation; liable to falling
    We’re giddy when we get off the airplane.
    The Middle English "gidi" means "crazy"--this can be seen in another definition of the adjective: lacking seriousness; given to frivolity and lightheartedness. Both definitions can fit the example sentence, since the family is disembarking a plane and embarking on a new life in America.
  2. contorted
    twisted, especially as in pain or struggle
    One look at our cowboy’s wife, arms, lips, eyes contorted into knots, and we repack.
  3. insist
    be emphatic or resolute and refuse to budge
    The wife insists we keep out of her neighbors’ eyes.
  4. meadow
    a field where grass or alfalfa are grown to be made into hay
    Such meat grows tight in texture, smelling of meadows and tasting sweet.
  5. vast
    unusually great in size or amount or extent or scope
    Vast windows in front of sealed curtains
  6. generosity
    the trait of being willing to give your money or time
    Mother could not believe his generosity until Brother Quang says the American government gives sponsors money.
  7. goodwill
    a disposition to kindness and compassion
    People living on others’ goodwill cannot afford political opinions.
  8. neigh
    make a characteristic sound, of a horse
    To make it worse, the cowboy explains horses here go neigh, neigh, neigh, not hee, hee, hee.
    This example sentence shows how speakers of different languages hear and represent sounds differently. "Neigh" and "hee" are examples of onomatopoeia (words based on sounds).
  9. martial
    suggesting war or military life
    Brother Vu wants to be a cook or teach martial arts, not waste a year as the oldest senior.
    This word comes from "Mars," the Roman god of war. But Brother Vu was not influenced by the Greco-Roman pantheon that assigns different aspects of life to different gods. Thus, he can consider being either a cook or a teacher of martial arts. As seen in the example sentences for "lure" and "appetite" in the list for Part 2, either choice would allow Brother Vu to serve up parts of his Asian culture to hungry and appreciative audiences.
  10. impressed
    deeply or markedly affected or influenced
    She doesn’t seem impressed
  11. occur
    come to one's mind
    Both laughing, chewing, as if it never occurred to them someone medium would show up.
  12. glance
    take a brief look at
    I can’t help but glance back.
  13. bulky
    of large size for its weight
    The full moon shines on the bulkiest lump.
    "Bulkiest" is the superlative (highest in order, quality, or degree) form of the adjective. The comparative form is "bulkier." The bulkiest lump stands out not only because it is the largest one but also because the light of the full moon is shining on it.
  14. furious
    marked by extreme anger
    I’m furious, unable to explain
  15. pucker
    gather something into small wrinkles or folds
    I repeat, Hogwash, puckering for the ending of ssssshhhhhh.
    Lips are often puckered for a kiss, but here, Ha puckers her lips to say a word with sounds that are unfamiliar to her and that actually means "nonsense."
  16. tutor
    give individual instruction
    She volunteers to tutor us all.
  17. illogical
    lacking in a correct relation of reason
    I pout, but MiSSSisss WaSShington says every language has annoyances and illogical rules, as well as sensible beauty.
    Two illogical rules that often trip up people new to English can be seen in use in this example sentence. Hint: they concern the different uses of the letter "s" at the end of verbs and nouns.
  18. solitude
    the state or situation of being alone
    Mother taps her nails on the dining table, her signal for solitude to chant.
  19. inhale
    draw deep into the lungs by breathing
    More sniffles, so gentle I would miss them by inhaling too deeply.
  20. yearn
    have a desire for something or someone who is not present
    Mother can’t help yearning for Father any more than I can help tasting ripe papaya in my sleep.
  21. retrieve
    go for and bring back
    After she falls asleep, I retrieve the bars.
  22. sturdy
    having rugged physical strength
    When he’s close enough for me to see the white arm hair, I shift my upper body to the left, legs sturdy, eyes on the blur that flies past me.
  23. misery
    a feeling of intense unhappiness
    It’s time to tell Mother why misery keeps pouncing on me.
  24. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    Pink Boy writhes on the pavement.
  25. soothing
    freeing from fear and anxiety
    GOOONNNNGGGGG rings out; how soothing a real gong sounds.

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