adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditions
Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon
adjust to the darkness.
an unpleasant or difficult situation
His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and
"Predicament" comes from the same Latin roots as "predict." How the noun evolved from a statement about the future to a difficult situation in the present is unclear. In the example sentence, Thomas is in a predicament he could not have predicted or prevented.
walk as if unable to control one's movements
Still dazzled by the light, he
staggered a bit.
Compare to this sentence: "He staggered back a step, awed once again by the structure of his new home." Both describe Thomas having trouble staying on his feet, but in the first, he staggers because of the light, while in the second, he staggers because he is staggered ("astound or overwhelm, as with shock") by the sight of the massive walls.
conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
Thomas suddenly felt dizzy, his eyes flickering between the boys and the
bizarre place in which he’d found himself.
causing loss of physical or intellectual bearings
It was as if his memory loss had stolen a chunk of his language—it was
The Latin noun "orientem" means "the rising sun, the east, part of the sky where the sun rises." People used to rely on the sun to find their way. Turning away from the sun (or east) was disorienting, which often resulted in being lost. The example sentence focuses on mental confusion, but Thomas is also physically and emotionally lost.
the power or right to give orders or make decisions
Different emotions battled for
dominance in his mind and heart.
throw bombs at or attack with bombs
As he breathed in deeply, trying to settle his nerves, a mixture of smells
The sense of smell is activated by the nose's contact with molecules. So Thomas is literally bombarded when he breathes in the dirt, manure, and pine. But the verb is also used figuratively here to emphasize the nerve-attacking strangeness of the Glade, especially to a newbie like Thomas.
overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
Thomas sat there for several moments, too
overwhelmed to move.
understand the meaning of something
He didn’t sound comfortable saying the last word, as if he hadn’t quite
grasped the slang of the Glade.
undamaged in any way
He mostly remembered the workings of the world—but emptied of specifics, faces, names. Like a book completely
intact but missing one word in every dozen, making it a miserable and confusing read.
a rapid and continuous outpouring
As if the taunting gave Thomas a sudden burst of courage, he walked over to the lit door, ignoring the creaking floorboards and laughter downstairs—ignoring the
onslaught of words he didn’t understand, suppressing the dreadful feelings they induced.
"Laugh" can be found inside "onslaught" but the same strings of letters are pronounced differently and the two words are not normally connected. But here, the laughter is accompanied by an onslaught of words that could figuratively slaughter one's courage. But Thomas does not back down, partly because he doesn't understand, but mostly because of his inner strength.
speak softly or indistinctly
“I . . . uh . . . want some answers,” he
murmured, but he couldn’t put any strength in his words—felt himself give up inside.
a reeling sensation; a feeling that you are about to fall
He felt an uncomfortable sense of
vertigo looking at the towering walls, as if he hovered above them instead of sitting at their base.
look with amazement
gaped, his mind emptying of thought as he saw it all firsthand.
Thomas stared, his mind
churning to come up with any possible explanation for what he’d just witnessed.
a feeling of mild anxiety about possible developments
Nothing developed, but something about that creepy old building gave him goose bumps, a
impair the respiration of or obstruct the air passage of
An onrushing sense of claustrophobia
stifled him, compressed his lungs, as if water filled their cavities.
The Latin verb "claudere" means "to close." A claustrophobic person who feels closed in might physically react with a closing of airways (here, the verbs "stifle" and "compress" are synonyms). This makes the fear worse. But Thomas will face worse fears that he must stifle ("smother or suppress" and "conceal or hide") in order to give himself and other Gladers a chance to breathe another day.
The enormous stone wall to the right of them seemed to
defy every known law of physics as it slid along the ground, throwing sparks and dust as it moved, rock against rock.
the quality of being unclear and hard to understand
He tried to grasp the memory, hold on to it, complete the picture with faces, names, a place, but it faded into
a divine manifestation
epiphany—was a strange one, foreign and familiar at the same time.
The Latin verb "phainein" means "to bring to light, explain" so an epiphany usually clears up confusion. But here, Thomas has an epiphany that is confusing, because it tells him what he needs to do, but he doesn't understand how he knows this. There is no mention of any divine being guiding him (in fact, Gally later accuses him of thinking he's a god).
clouded as with sediment
He stopped when Newt did, right next to the massive wall towering above them like a skyscraper—another random image that floated in the
murky pool of his memory wipe.
inspiring a feeling of fear; strange and frightening
Glimmers of an
eerie light shone through the window; it cast a wavering spectrum of colors on Newt’s body and face, as if he stood next to a lighted swimming pool.
imposing in size or bulk or solidity
How could a maze, with walls so
massive and tall, be so big that dozens of kids hadn’t been able to solve it after who knew how long trying? How could such a structure exist? And more importantly, why?
hard to comprehend, solve, or believe
His memory loss was
baffling in its complexity.
incapable of being explained or accounted for
He giggled as he elbowed Thomas in the ribs, a high-pitched snicker that
inexplicably made Thomas like him more.
squeeze together tightly
Thomas stared back, confused, his face turning bright red, his gut
Compare with "grasp." Another definition for "clench" is "hold in a tight grasp" so the two verbs can be synonyms. But "clench" refers only to a physical squeezing or holding of something, while "grasp" can also refer to the figurative image of holding an idea in one's mind and understanding it.
as if rendered speechless with astonishment and surprise
Newt had read the message aloud for those who couldn’t see the paper, but instead of erupting in confusion, the Gladers all stood
They’d come a day apart, she seemed familiar, he had a
consuming urge to become a Runner despite learning so many terrible things.
a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
Thomas watched all this in mute
reasoned and reasonable judgment
Logic told him it had to be his mind playing tricks on him, but he swore he saw the word WICKED scrawled down its rounded back in large green letters.
capable of being treated as fact
Once again, he remembered a
tangible thing from his past, but couldn’t assign it to any specific time or place, couldn’t associate it with any other person or event.
a confused multitude of things
He pushed and swatted at his attacker, a relentless
jumble of skin and bones cavorting on top of him as he tried to gain purchase.
"Jumble" describes both the crazed movements of the attacker's skin and bones and the reaction of Thomas to being attacked. "Relentless" ("never giving in, as to influence or pressure") describes the attacker trying to gain purchase ("the advantage gained by being in a position to use a lever"), but it fits the attitude of both fighters, who are not cavorting ("play boisterously") with each other.
having your attention fixated as though by a spell
But he couldn’t move; he was too
mesmerized, too scared.
become clear or enter one's consciousness or emotions
If anything had
penetrated the haze of his long morning, it had been thoughts of her.
full of difficulty or confusion or bewilderment
He trailed off, a
perplexed look wrinkling his eyebrows.