WORD LISTS

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-4

January 26, 2014
Adolescence can be tough, but it's really tough for Percy Jackson, who has just found out his father is the god Poseidon. Rick Riordan's first volume in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, "The Lightning Thief," takes this audacious premise and runs with it, as Percy encounters many more gods and demigods on his adventures. Learn this word list that focuses on abnormality.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-8, Chapters 9-12, Chapters 13-17, Chapters 18-22
envy
"Envy" comes from the Latin verb "videre" which means "to see" because the emotion usually arises when someone sees something that someone else has that he wishes he had. But this is not the case with the narrator Percy Jackson: he is speaking to readers he does not know to tell them about events that actually happened to him. The author uses this perspective to draw the readers into the fictional world he has created.
I envy you for being able to believe that none of this ever happened.
determined
This trip, I was determined to be good.
wispy
He must’ve been held back several grades, because he was the only sixth grader with acne and the start of a wispy beard on his chin.
spawn
Although the readers don't know yet who Percy's real father is, and neither did Percy at the time that he knew Mrs. Dodds, by the time that he writes these words for his readers, he does know, so the phrase "devil spawn" has an extra humorously ironic tone. Also, since the devil is not usually portrayed as a fish, amphibian, or mollusk, the definition does not fit the example sentence; here, it simply means offspring or product.
From her first day, Mrs. Dodds loved Nancy Bobofit and figured I was devil spawn.
vital
“What you learn from me,” he said, “is vitally important. I expect you to treat it as such. I will accept only the best from you, Percy Jackson.”
dyslexia
In Greek, "dus" means "bad" and "lexis" means "speech"--broken into its roots, the word doesn't match its definition, since dyslexia is not a speech impairment; however, a student who struggles with reading can develop insecurities that lead to problems speaking. In Percy's case, both dyslexia and ADHD affect his ability to participate in class, which lead to his low grades and low expectations of himself.
But Mr. Brunner expected me to be as good as everybody else, despite the fact that I have dyslexia and attention deficit disorder and I had never made above a C- in my life.
triumphant
There was a triumphant fire in her eyes, as if I'd done something she'd been waiting for all semester.
pulverize
It’s weird being alone with a teacher, especially Mrs. Dodds. Something about the way she looked at the frieze, as if she wanted to pulverize it.
shriveled
She was a shriveled hag with bat wings and claws and a mouth full of yellow fangs, and she was about to slice me to ribbons.
vaporize
Although "vaporize" also means "turn into gas" or "cause to turn into liquid" in this example sentence, Mrs. Dodds was turned into powder, which makes the verb synonymous with "pulverize" (compare with its definition and example sentence in this list).
She exploded into yellow powder, vaporized on the spot, leaving nothing but the smell of sulfur and a dying screech and a chill of evil in the air, as if those two glowing red eyes were still watching me.
contaminate
My lunch must’ve been contaminated with magic mushrooms or something.
distracted
Compare with this sentence: "He was looking pale, cutting his eyes between me and Mr. Brunner, like he wanted Mr. Brunner to notice what was going on, but Mr. Brunner was absorbed in his novel." In both cases, Mr. Brunner acts as if he were distracted or absorbed ("giving or marked by complete attention to") in order to pretend that everything is normal.
He looked up, a little distracted. “Ah, that would be my pen. Please bring your own writing utensil in the future, Mr. Jackson.”
occasional
I was used to the occasional weird experience, but usually they were over quickly.
convinced
The students acted as if they were completely and totally convinced that Mrs. Kerr—a perky blond woman whom I'd never seen in my life until she got on our bus at the end of the field trip—had been our pre-algebra teacher since Christmas.
hesitate
When I mentioned the name Dodds to him, he would hesitate, then claim she didn’t exist.
squall
One of the current events we studied in social studies class was the unusual number of small planes that had gone down in sudden squalls in the Atlantic that year.
irritable
I started feeling cranky and irritable most of the time.
sot
Finally, when our English teacher, Mr. Nicoll, asked me for the millionth time why I was too lazy to study for spelling tests, I snapped. I called him an old sot. I wasn’t even sure what it meant, but it sounded good.
obnoxious
In Latin, "noxa" means "injury"--Gabe is obnoxious because his smell is harmful to Percy's comfort, because he threatens to punch out Percy's lights, and because he skips work to play poker all day and expects his tired wife to serve him and his buddies.
I wanted to be with my mom in our little apartment on the Upper East Side, even if I had to go to public school and put up with my obnoxious stepfather and his stupid poker parties.
ignorance
Let him enjoy his ignorance while he still can.
solstice
“My nerves haven’t been right since the winter solstice.”
confound
Percy is confounded by Mr. Brunner's words, but when Mr. Brunner says the phrase "confound it all" he is not expressing confusion but anger that he couldn't clear up Percy's confusion at this point in time (here, "confound" means "to damn").
“Oh, confound it all. What I’m trying to say...you’re not normal, Percy. That’s nothing to be—”
mournful
He looked at me mournfully, like he was already picking the kind of flowers I’d like best on my coffin.
nauseous
He just kept on collecting paychecks, spending the money on cigars that made me nauseous, and on beer, of course.
smother
"Smother" can be a kangaroo word because it carries "mother" inside--in the example sentence, at the described moment, the two verbs are synonymous. Because Percy is away at a boarding school for most of the year, he is glad to be smothered and mothered when he returns home for the summer.
I told her she was smothering me, and to lay off and all that, but secretly, I was really, really glad to see her.
sarcasm
His tiny brain was probably trying to detect sarcasm in my statement.
anxiety
For a moment, I thought I saw anxiety in her eyes—the same fear I’d seen in Grover during the bus ride—as if my mom too felt an odd chill in the air.
hallucination
I knew I should tell my mom about the old ladies at the fruit stand, and Mrs. Dodds at the art museum, about my weird hallucination that I had sliced my math teacher into dust with a sword.
cloven
Because where his feet should be, there were no feet. There were cloven hooves.
hastily
“Keeping tabs on you. Making sure you were okay. But I wasn’t faking being your friend,” he added hastily.
swerve
We swerved onto a narrower road, racing past darkened farmhouses and wooded hills and PICK YOUR OWN STRAWBERRIES signs on white picket fences.
falter
“Percy,” my mother said, “we have to...” Her voice faltered.
lumber
In a flash of lightning, through the mud-spattered rear windshield, I saw a figure lumbering toward us on the shoulder of the road. The sight of it made my skin crawl.
dissolve
Then, with an angry roar, the monster closed his fists around my mother’s neck, and she dissolved before my eyes, melting into light, a shimmering golden form, as if she were a holographic projection.
disintegrate
Compare with "dissolve" in this list--the verbs can be synonymous, but Percy does not use them the same way, because he does not want to connect two monsters to his mother. For his mother, he chooses a softer verb and connects her to golden light that makes her seem godly; for the monsters, he includes the verb "burst," the adjective "crumbling" and the nouns "sand" and "chunks" to make them sound more like worthless objects that broke.
He flailed, clawing at his chest, then began to disintegrate—not like my mother, in a flash of golden light, but like crumbling sand, blown away in chunks by the wind, the same way Mrs. Dodds had burst apart.

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Wednesday February 12th, 4:13 AM
Comment by: RADIOACTIVE MAN (Australia)
could you write one about Skulduggery Pleasant?
Friday February 14th, 12:36 PM
Comment by: Darth Maul (ND)
Percy Jackson rocks!

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