March 1979–Epilogue

Loung Ung's privileged life as the daughter of a government official is shattered when the Khmer Rouge army invades the Cambodian capital in 1975. In this memoir, Loung recounts her training as a child solider and her family's suffering during the Cambodian genocide.
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, unite!
  • 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. anticipation
    expecting with confidence of fulfillment
    The crowd vibrates with anticipation and energy, closing in around the prisoner, glaring at him.
  2. execution
    putting a condemned person to death
    People talk loudly about the best way to kill him. They argue about how to make the execution as drawn out and painful as possible.
  3. vengeful
    disposed to take action in return for a perceived wrong
    His government has created a vengeful, bloodthirsty people. Pol Pot has turned me into someone who wants to kill.
  4. seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    Only their eyes look alive as they seethe with more rage and hate.
  5. devoid
    completely wanting or lacking
    During the execution, the crowd did not cheer but watched, silent and devoid of emotion, as if it were the slaughter of an animal for food.
  6. accustomed
    in the habit of or adapted to
    Now my body is accustomed to the extreme environment and weather, but my heart has never come to terms with the absence of those we have lost.
  7. vulnerable
    susceptible to attack
    We are in the middle of nowhere and are highly vulnerable to a Khmer Rouge attack.
  8. resemblance
    similarity in appearance or external or superficial details
    He is about Pa’s age, but the resemblance ends there.
  9. resilient
    recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
    My rage made me strong and resilient.
  10. status
    the relative position or standing of things or persons
    Though many new people who resettled in their village were taken away and never heard from again, my family’s status as base people protected them from the killings.
  11. smuggle
    import or export without paying customs duties
    In Vietnam, Meng explains, the human smuggling operation, or leaving the country without papers, is illegal.
  12. export
    a commodity sold to a foreign country
    He says Eang’s family knows the person running this human export operation.
  13. usher
    take someone to their seats, as in theaters or auditoriums
    Meng returns a few minutes later with a Youn fisherman, and they quickly usher me onto a small boat.
  14. derogatory
    expressive of low opinion
    He says Youn is a derogatory name and since we are living in Vietnam, we should not use it.
  15. suspicion
    doubt about someone's honesty
    It will not arouse suspicion if we disappear one night and head for Thailand.
  16. murky
    clouded as with sediment
    When it gets hot, I dive off the houseboat into the murky water, taking care not to drink it.
  17. bribe
    make illegal payments to in exchange for favors or influence
    After a few minutes of exchange, our man succeeds in bribing the intruder to go away with his gold watch, and all is quiet again.
  18. pendulum
    an apparatus in which an object is mounted to swing freely
    Yet the sea becomes rougher and the boat rocks from side to side like a pendulum, and with each swing the waves violently slap against the side of the boat.
  19. imminent
    close in time; about to occur
    People vomit and moan loudly, afraid of their imminent deaths.
  20. intention
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
    We, on the other hand, know the pirates’ intentions and have devised plans of our own.
  21. retrieve
    get or find back; recover the use of
    Others wear their gold as teeth and some swallow diamonds and other jewelry, knowing they can make themselves throw up or get diarrhea and retrieve the items later.
  22. ashen
    pale from illness or emotion
    With ashen faces, some of the younger, prettier girls reach into the bags we have vomited into and scoop out handfuls of it to smear on their hair and clothes.
  23. refugee
    an exile who flees for safety
    The refugee workers have Meng fill out many papers before sending us off to the camp’s church, where we are given clean clothes, bedsheets, and food.
  24. adapt
    conform oneself to new or different conditions
    The sponsors will help us find a place to live and schools to teach us English, and they will help us adapt to life in America.
  25. sponsor
    someone who supports or champions something
    “We are, but being a Christian will help us get sponsors faster. Many refugees are sponsored by church groups. Christians like to help other Christians.”
  26. linger
    remain present although waning or gradually dying
    “Pa, I’m leaving for America tomorrow. Eldest brother said America is very far from Cambodia, very far from you . . .” The words linger in the air.
  27. immerse
    devote fully to
    In my new country, I immersed myself in American culture during the day, but at night the war haunted me with nightmares.
  28. stranded
    cut off or left behind
    Stranded in a foreign land, with little knowledge of the culture, society, food, or language, both work long hours at IBM to support the entire family.
  29. harbor
    maintain, as a theory, thought, or feeling
    Though Meng has kept the family in Cambodia and here afloat for many years, he still harbors deep sadness that we did not succeed in bringing over our entire family.
  30. redeem
    restore the honor or worth of
    As I tell people about genocide, I get the opportunity to redeem myself.
Created on September 28, 2015 (updated September 13, 2018)

Sign up now (it’s free!)

Whether you’re a teacher or a learner, Vocabulary.com can put you or your class on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.