Chapters 1–2

In the 1960s, tensions between two rival gangs separated along economic lines reach a violent breaking point.
Copy this list to... Buy the Book

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. consider
    deem to be
    Or I could have gotten one of the gang to come along, one of the four boys Darry and Soda and I have grown up with and consider family.
  2. conscious
    having awareness of surroundings and sensations and thoughts
    I remembered Johnny—his face all cut up and bruised, and I remembered how he had cried when we found him, half-conscious, in the corner lot.
  3. perspiration
    salty fluid secreted by sweat glands
    I could feel my palms getting clammy and the perspiration running down my back.
  4. suffocate
    die from lack of oxygen
    I could smell English Leather shaving lotion and stale tobacco, and I wondered foolishly if I would suffocate before they did anything.
  5. sympathetic
    expressing compassion or friendly fellow feelings
    His eyes are dark brown—lively, dancing, recklessly laughing eyes that can be gentle and sympathetic one moment and blazing with anger the next.
  6. acquire
    win something through one's efforts
    He was famous for shoplifting and his black-handled switchblade (which he couldn’t have acquired without his first talent), and he was always smarting off to the cops.
  7. unfathomable
    impossible to come to understand
    He liked fights, blondes, and for some unfathomable reason, school.
  8. organized
    methodical and efficient in arrangement or function
    In New York, Dally blew off steam in gang fights, but here, organized gangs are rarities—there are just small bunches of friends who stick together, and the warfare is between the social classes.
    A rarity is something unusual, often thought as valuable. This word almost makes an organized gang seem like something that Ponyboy wishes his neighborhood had. But he is actually somewhat of a loner who enjoys watching movies and reading books by himself. Any positive tone towards organized gangs would be connected to Dally.
  9. suspicious
    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
    He had a nervous, suspicious look in his eyes, and that beating he got from the Socs didn’t help matters.
  10. surround
    extend on all sides of simultaneously; encircle
    Lying beside Soda, staring at the wall, I kept remembering the faces of the Socs as they surrounded me, that blue madras shirt the blond was wearing, and I could still hear a thick voice: “Need a haircut, greaser?”
  11. savvy
    get the meaning of something
    “Listen, kiddo, when Darry hollers at you ... he don’t mean nothin’. He’s just got more worries than somebody his age ought to. Don’t take him serious ... you dig, Pony? Don’t let him bug you. He’s really proud of you ’cause you’re so brainy. It’s just because you’re the baby—I mean, he loves you a lot. Savvy?”
    "Savvy" is used here as a question that means the same as "you dig?" As a noun, it means "common sense" and as an adjective, it means "having common sense." So a savvy person has savvy, savvy?
  12. appeal
    be attractive to
    Two-Bit or Steve or even Soda would have gone right along with him, just to see if they could embarrass the girls, but that kind of kicks just doesn’t appeal to me.
  13. incredulous
    not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
    She gave him an incredulous look; and then she threw her Coke in his face.
  14. hesitation
    indecision in speech or action
    If it had been me, or Two-Bit, or Soda or Steve, or anyone but Johnny, Dally would have flattened him without a moment’s hesitation.
  15. rebellious
    resisting control or authority
    Living in those conditions might have turned someone else rebellious and bitter; it was killing Johnny.
    The adjective "rebellious" comes from the Latin verb "bellare" which means "to make war." Because Johnny is not rebellious, even though his parents make war on him, everyone in the gang takes extra care to make him feel like he's their beloved kid brother.
Created on June 9, 2014 (updated July 16, 2018)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.