Vocabulary from Louis Sachar's "Holes"

Also check out this lesson plan on using key words from the novel "Holes": http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/lessons/2924/

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. splatter
    dash a liquid upon or against
    Stanley watched the water splatter on the dirt, where it was quickly absorbed by the thirsty ground.
  2. raspy
    unpleasantly harsh or grating in sound
    His voice was weak and raspy.
  3. parch
    cause to wither from exposure to heat
    His mouth was as dry and as parched as the lake.
  4. evict
    expel or eject without recourse to legal process
    The landlord is threatening to evict us because of the odor.
  5. snicker
    laugh quietly
    Several people snickered.
  6. excavate
    recover through digging
    It expanded when it was excavated.
  7. dawdle
    hang or fall in movement, progress, development, etc.
    He couldn't afford to dawdle.
  8. crumple
    gather something into small wrinkles or folds
    His knees crumpled beneath him.
  9. layered
    with one thin piece on top of another
    It was layered and streaked with different shades of red, burnt orange, brown, and tan.
  10. contaminate
    make impure
    They didn't dip their socks into the hole, afraid to contaminate the water.
  11. protrude
    extend out or project in space
    He was able to lift Zero high enough for him to grab the protruding slab of rock.
  12. indentation
    the space left between the margin and a line set in
    He saw a large indentation in the weeds a little farther down the mountain.
  13. memorize
    learn by heart
    I just don't have it memorized exactly."
  14. unearth
    recover through digging
    He unearthed several shovelfuls of dirt in this manner, before it occurred to him that he was dumping his dirt within the perimeter of his hole.
  15. increment
    the amount by which something increases
    Instead they zigzagged back and forth, increasing their altitude by small increments every time they changed directions.
  16. rummage
    search haphazardly
    Kate could see her rummaging through the cabin, dumping drawers and knocking things from the shelves of cabinets.
  17. wiggle
    move to and fro
    He had a tattoo of a rattlesnake on his arm, and as he signed his name, the snake's rattle seemed to wiggle "I used to smoke a pack a day.
  18. nozzle
    a projecting spout from which a fluid is discharged
    Mr. Sir opened the nozzle, and the water flowed out of the tank, but it did not go into Stanley's canteen.
  19. dangle
    hang freely
    Zero's legs dangled in front of him.
  20. grading
    evaluation of performance by assigning a score
    Miss Katherine usually stayed in the schoolhouse, grading papers and such, while Sam worked on the roof.
  21. fume
    a cloud of fine particles suspended in a gas
    The air was thick with heat, dust, and exhaust fumes.
  22. rotate
    turn on or around an axis or a center
    He rotated it and only had to chip off a few chunks of dirt, here and there, before it could lie flat across his hole in every direction.
  23. glisten
    be shiny, as if wet
    As he dumped it out, he thought he saw something glisten as it fell onto the dirt pile.
  24. perimeter
    a line enclosing a plane area
    He unearthed several shovelfuls of dirt in this manner, before it occurred to him that he was dumping his dirt within the perimeter of his hole.
  25. shimmer
    shine with a weak or fitful light
    It was a mirage caused by the shimmering waves of heat rising off the dry ground.
  26. humiliate
    cause to feel shame
    Maybe he was in a hurry to bring the shoes to his father, or maybe he was trying to run away from his miserable and humiliating day at school.
  27. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    His body writhed in agony.
  28. evaporate
    change into gas or steam
    The water ran out under the walls and evaporated quickly in the sun.
  29. taped
    recorded on tape
    Mr. Sir made a bandage out of a piece of his sack of sunflower seeds and taped it over Stanley's wound.
  30. holster
    a sheath for carrying a handgun
    He tapped his holster.
  31. gash
    cut open
    He felt his wet blood and a pretty big gash just below his ear.
  32. donate
    give to a charity or good cause
    Clyde Livingston testified that they were his sneakers and that he had donated them to help raise money for the homeless shelter.
  33. snout
    a long projecting or anterior elongation of an animal's head
    Myra's father got down on his hands and knees and closely examined each pig, tail to snout.
  34. hinge
    a joint that holds two parts together so that one can swing
    The door hung crooked on its bent hinges.
  35. amaze
    affect with wonder
    Stanley was amazed.
  36. afflict
    cause physical pain or suffering in
    In fact, it was the same foot fungus that a hundred and ten years later would afflict the famous ballplayer Clyde Livingston.
  37. recede
    pull back or move away or backward
    For a second, Mr. Sir's pain seemed to recede.
  38. accelerate
    move faster
    Stanley jerked back against the seat and tightly gripped the wheel as the truck accelerated.
  39. predatory
    living by preying on other animals
    The yellow-spotted lizards like to live in holes, which offer shade from the sun and protection from predatory birds.
  40. mirage
    when hot air distorts reflections of distant objects
    It was a mirage caused by the shimmering waves of heat rising off the dry ground.
  41. zigzag
    a shape with sharp turns in alternating directions
    They called themselves Magnet, Armpit, and Zigzag.
  42. strand
    line consisting of a complex of fibers twisted together
    Instead, she robbed him and left him stranded in the middle of the desert.
  43. nectar
    a sweet liquid secretion that is attractive to pollinators
    It was a warm, bubbly, mushy nectar, sweet and tangy.
  44. retrieve
    get or find back; recover the use of
    By the time Stanley retrieved it, he had missed his bus and had to walk home.
  45. pry
    be nosey
    He leaned on the shaft and pried up his first shovelful of dirt, then dumped it off to the side.
  46. lurch
    move suddenly or as if unable to control one's movements
    The truck lurched forward.
  47. quack
    the harsh sound of a duck
    That quack wanted to put leeches on her stomach!
  48. scoop
    the shovel or bucket of a dredge or backhoe
    He glanced at Zero, about fifteen feet away, who scooped out a shovelful of dirt and dumped it on a pile that was already almost a foot tall.
  49. premise
    a statement that is held to be true
    Next to it was another sign which declared that it was a violation of the Texas Penal Code to bring guns, explosives, weapons, drugs, or alcohol onto the premises.
  50. sniff
    perceive by inhaling through the nose
    He sniffed and caught his breath.
  51. grimace
    contort the face to indicate a certain mental state
    He grimaced as he sliced off a chunk of dirt, then raised it up and flung it onto a pile.
  52. humid
    containing or characterized by a great deal of water vapor
    The air became unbearably humid.
  53. confuse
    mistake one thing for another
    Myra looked confused.
  54. ingredient
    a component of a mixture or compound
    "Do you want to know my secret ingredient?"
  55. hover
    hang in the air; fly or be suspended above
    During the summer the daytime temperature hovers around ninety-five degrees in the shade—if you can find any shade.
  56. venom
    toxin secreted by animals
    "Rattlesnake venom."
  57. despicable
    morally reprehensible
    The judge called Stanley's crime despicable.
  58. murky
    clouded as with sediment
    It contained almost two feet of murky water.
  59. gruff
    brusque and surly and forbidding
    In his mind he could hear his father's gruff voice softly singing to him

    "If only, if only," the woodpecker sighs,
    "The bark on the tree was just a little bit softer."
  60. distract
    draw someone's attention away from something
    "You seem distracted."
  61. bounce
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    He tried to jam it into the earth, but the blade banged against the ground and bounced off without making a dent.
  62. wrench
    a sharp strain on muscles or ligaments
    "Luh— Luh-un—" Suddenly, Zero made a horrible, wrenching noise as he doubled over and grabbed his stomach.
  63. toxic
    of or relating to or caused by a poison
    "It's only toxic while it's wet."
  64. focusing
    the concentration of attention or energy on something
    After focusing on Big Thumb for so long, it was as if the rock had absorbed his energy and now acted like a kind of giant magnet pulling him toward it.
  65. poke
    thrust abruptly
    He poked his fat finger in Stanley's neck.
  66. lizard
    relatively long-bodied reptile with legs and a tapering tail
    Then he will get to spend a day or two recovering in his tent, instead of having to dig a hole out on the lake
    But you don't want to be bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard.
  67. flap
    move in a wavy pattern or with a rising and falling motion
    "Thanks," he said as Zero entered through the tent flap.
  68. recite
    repeat aloud from memory
    He would have felt pretty silly reciting nursery rhymes at Camp Green Lake.
  69. hazy
    filled or abounding with fog or mist
    The only time they were visible was just at sunup, before the air became hazy.
  70. jagged
    having a sharply uneven surface or outline
    There were three dark-purple jagged lines running down his cheek where the Warden had scratched him.
  71. spat
    a quarrel about petty points
    Madame Zeroni spat on the dirt.
  72. discourage
    try to prevent; show opposition to
    "Not every Stanley Yelnats has been a failure," Stanley's mother often pointed out, whenever Stanley or his father became so discouraged that they actually started to believe in the curse.
  73. exhaust
    wear out completely
    The air was thick with heat, dust, and exhaust fumes.
  74. requirement
    necessary activity
    The next morning, out on the lake, Stanley listened as Mr. Sir told Twitch the requirements for his hole: ". . . as wide and as deep as your shovel."
  75. assign
    select something or someone for a specific purpose
    The counselors slept in F.
    Stanley was assigned to D tent.
  76. sparkle
    emit or produce sparks
    Her eyes sparkled.
  77. exclaim
    utter aloud, often with surprise, horror, or joy
    "That's preposterous!" exclaimed Igor, expelling saliva as he spoke.
  78. relaxation
    freedom from activity
    Mr. Sir told him he should wear one set to work in and one set for relaxation.
  79. parched
    dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight
    His mouth was as dry and as parched as the lake.
  80. pierce
    penetrate or cut through with a sharp instrument
    Stanley stamped down on the back of the blade of the shovel, piercing the hard, dry earth.
  81. tangle
    twist together or entwine into a confusing mass
    As they climbed higher, the patches of weeds grew thicker, and they had to be careful not to get their feet tangled in thorny vines.
  82. preposterous
    inviting ridicule
    "That's preposterous!" exclaimed Igor, expelling saliva as he spoke.
  83. relax
    make less taut
    The muscles in his face relaxed.
  84. scar
    a mark left by the healing of injured tissue
    It was a jagged purple line running from below his eye to below his mouth, like a tattoo of a scar.
  85. absorb
    take in a liquid
    Stanley watched the water splatter on the dirt, where it was quickly absorbed by the thirsty ground.
  86. scatter
    cause to separate and go in different directions
    He could see empty jars scattered about.
  87. leak
    enter or escape as through a hole or crack or fissure
    The roof leaked.
  88. clutch
    take hold of; grab
    Suddenly, Mr. Sir screamed and clutched his face with both hands.
  89. adjust
    alter or regulate so as to conform to a standard
    His body had adjusted somewhat to the heat and harsh conditions.
  90. stall
    a small area set off for special use
    "There's a water spigot on the wall of the shower stall."
  91. altitude
    elevation above sea level or above the earth's surface
    Instead they zigzagged back and forth, increasing their altitude by small increments every time they changed directions.
  92. nonetheless
    despite anything to the contrary
    He knew it was nothing to be proud of, but he felt proud nonetheless.
  93. translate
    restate from one language into another language
    Elya tried his best to translate it from Latvian into English, but it wasn't the same.
  94. whirl
    the shape of something rotating rapidly
    Theodore whirled and grabbed Stanley by his collar.
  95. invent
    come up with after a mental effort
    The apartment smelled the way it did because Stanley's father was trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers.
  96. challenging
    requiring full use of your abilities or resources
    Dear Mom and Dad,
    Camp is hard, but challenging.
  97. drought
    a shortage of rainfall
    The drought can't last forever.
  98. automatically
    in a mechanical manner; by a mechanism
    He kept stepping into, then jumping back from, the spray, until the water shut off automatically.
  99. unaware
    not having or showing knowledge or understanding
    Stanley weighed three times as much as the other boy Mrs. Bell wrote the ratio on the board, 3:1, unaware of how much embarrassment she had caused both of them.
  100. quiver
    shake with fast, tremulous movements
    She pointed her quivering finger in their direction and whispered, "God will punish you!"
  101. concentrate
    make denser, stronger, or purer
    Zero concentrated hard, then said, "Chat."
  102. swarm
    a group of many things in the air or on the ground
    A swarm of gnats hovered around them, attracted by their sweat.
  103. expanse
    a wide and open space or area as of surface or land or sky
    Magnet gestured with his arms to the great expanse around them.
  104. precipice
    a very steep cliff
    As the ground flattened, a huge stone precipice rose up ahead of him, just barely visible in the moonlight.
  105. clasp
    hold firmly and tightly
    He felt Zero's hand clasp his wrist.
  106. surround
    extend on all sides of simultaneously; encircle
    His hole was almost up to his shoulders, although it was hard to tell exactly where ground level was because his dirt piles completely surrounded the hole.
  107. pan
    shallow container made of metal
    It was as if they had been walking across the flat bottom of a giant frying pan, and now they had to somehow climb up out of it.
  108. cluster
    a grouping of a number of similar things
    Zero kept backing up, out past the cluster of holes the boys had been digging, then farther and farther out onto the lake.
  109. scratch
    cut, scrape, or wear away the surface of
    There were three dark-purple jagged lines running down his cheek where the Warden had scratched him.
  110. tangled
    in a confused mass
    As they climbed higher, the patches of weeds grew thicker, and they had to be careful not to get their feet tangled in thorny vines.
  111. ignore
    refuse to acknowledge
    "All right!" said Mr. Pendanski, raising his hand for a high five, but Stanley ignored it.
  112. lump
    a compact mass
    "Hey, watch it!" said an orange lump on a chair.
  113. zero
    the mathematical symbol 0 denoting absence of quantity
    Both Mr. Pendanski and X-Ray called him Zero.
  114. ratio
    relation with respect to comparative quantity or magnitude
    On his last day of school, his math teacher, Mrs Bell, taught ratios.
  115. muddy
    soft and watery, of soil
    Zero's head knocked against the back of his shoulder as he fell and tumbled into a small muddy gully.
  116. riot
    a state of disorder involving group violence
    "There was a riot," Mr. Pendanski told her.
  117. frail
    physically weak
    His frail body trembled terribly as he climbed the stone wall.
  118. gear
    a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism
    "Put it in gear!" shouted Twitch.
  119. rotten
    having decayed or disintegrated
    It was all because of his no-good-dirty- rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!
  120. rub
    move over something with pressure
    Myra's father rubbed his chin.
  121. moisture
    wetness caused by water
    He barely had enough moisture in his mouth to seal and stamp the envelope.
  122. blossom
    a flower or cluster of flowers on a plant
    "That's right, my blossom," said her father.
  123. expand
    extend in one or more directions
    When she looked at you, her eyes seemed to expand, and you felt like she was looking right through you.
  124. nursery
    a child's room for a baby
    "You know, the nursery rhyme?"
  125. obstacle
    something that stands in the way and must be surmounted
    Other times they'd run an obstacle course, or go bungee jumping off a table, tied to broken rubber bands.
  126. tank
    a large vessel for holding gases or liquids
    Mr. Sir filled each of their canteens from a tank of water in the bed of the pickup.
  127. weigh
    have a certain heft
    As an example, she chose the heaviest kid in the class and the lightest kid m the class, and had them weigh themselves.
  128. layer
    a single thickness of some substance or material
    It was layered and streaked with different shades of red, burnt orange, brown, and tan.
  129. collapse
    break down, literally or metaphorically
    As Stanley tried to turn over on his cot, he was afraid it was going to collapse under all his weight.
  130. muscle
    animal tissue consisting predominantly of contractile cells
    Every muscle and joint in his body ached as he tried to get out of bed.
  131. glare
    be sharply reflected
    As he glared at Mr. Pendanski, his dark eyes seemed to expand.
  132. compound
    a whole formed by a union of two or more elements or parts
    Two boys, each carrying a shovel, were coming across the compound.
  133. grade
    a position on a scale of intensity or amount or quality
    Miss Katherine usually stayed in the schoolhouse, grading papers and such, while Sam worked on the roof.
  134. shaft
    a long rod or pole, especially the body of a weapon
    The vibrations ran up the shaft of the shovel and into Stanley's wrists, making his bones rattle.
  135. adult
    a fully developed person from maturity onward
    She taught classes in the evening for adults, and many of the adults loved her as well.
  136. meadow
    a field where grass or alfalfa are grown to be made into hay

    Stanley awoke in a meadow, looking up at the giant rock tower.
  137. concentrated
    gathered together or made less diffuse
    Zero concentrated hard, then said, "Chat."
  138. patch
    a small contrasting part of something
    Patches of weeds dotted the mountainside.
  139. drift
    be in motion due to some air or water current
    The truck stopped, and the dust cloud drifted past it.
  140. stare
    look at with fixed eyes
    Stanley stared up at him, terrified.
  141. guy
    an informal term for a youth or man
    "You're a good guy, Caveman."
  142. survive
    continue in existence after
    "He was lucky to have survived," Stanley's mother was quick to point out.
  143. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    The land was barren and desolate.
  144. urge
    force or impel in an indicated direction
    "We don't have much time!" urged Katherine.
  145. amazed
    filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise
    Stanley was amazed.
  146. initial
    occurring at the beginning
    It was full of bumps and holes because so many people had carved their initials into the felt.
  147. barren
    completely wanting or lacking
    The land was barren and desolate.
  148. remind
    put in the mind of someone
    The lake was so full of holes and mounds that it reminded Stanley of pictures he'd seen of the moon.
  149. warn
    notify of danger, potential harm, or risk
    Madame Zeroni warned that if he failed to do this, he and his descendants would be doomed for all of eternity.
  150. tube
    a hollow cylindrical shape
    It was a gold tube, about as long and as wide as the second finger on his right hand.
  151. convince
    make realize the truth or validity of something
    Though he tried to convince himself otherwise, he'd been aware for a while that his piles of dirt were too close to his hole.
  152. peak
    a V shape
    In that split second Stanley thought he saw an unusual rock formation on top of one of the mountain peaks.
  153. outline
    the line that appears to bound an object
    He rubbed off some dirt, and the outline of the fish became clearer.
  154. definitely
    without question and beyond doubt
    They were definitely looking for something.
  155. boil
    change from a liquid to vapor
    There were no mirrors in camp, but he imagined he looked like he had a hard- boiled egg sticking out of him.
  156. leap
    move forward by bounds
    They have strong, powerful legs, and can leap out of very deep holes to attack their prey.
  157. fan
    a device for creating a current of air by movement
    There was a hole in the far wall, and an electric fan had been placed in front of it.
  158. reflect
    throw or bend back from a surface
    The bright sun reflected off the side mirror of the truck, and Stanley had to shield his eyes with his hand.
  159. lap
    the upper side of the thighs of a seated person

    Stanley Yelnats was the only passenger on the bus, not counting the driver or the guard The guard sat next to the driver with his seat turned around facing Stanley A rifle lay across his lap
    Stanley was sitting about ten rows back, handcuffed to his armrest His backpack lay on the seat next to him It contained his toothbrush, toothpaste, and a box of stationery his mother had given him He'd promised to write to her at least once a week.
  160. complain
    express discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness
    Theodore spit a thin line of saliva between his teeth, causing some of the other boys to complain about the need to keep their "home" sanitary.
  161. introduce
    bring something new to an environment
    He told the boys to come shake Stanley's hand and introduce themselves, "like gentlemen."
  162. appreciate
    be fully aware of; realize fully
    And as the truck bounced along the dirt, he was able to appreciate the air blowing through the open window onto his hot and sweaty face.
  163. foul
    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
    Even if she didn't love him, couldn't she see what a foul person Igor was?

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