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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!
Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly.
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- ordeala severe or trying experience“Where are my babies?” said the exhausted mother when the
ordeal was through.
- diplomatan official engaged in international negotiationsShe was a French mouse who had arrived at the castle long ago in the luggage of a visiting French
- despairthe feeling that nothing will turn out wellI will name this mouse Despereaux, for all the sadness, for the many
despairs in this place.
- sharda broken piece of a brittle artifactHer husband handed her a small
shard of mirror.
- intentgiving or marked by complete attention toHe was not
intent on tracking down every crumb.
- siblinga person's brother or sisterWhile his larger, older
siblings ate, Despereaux stood with his head cocked to one side, holding very still.
- scurrymove about or proceed hurriedlyMove! You’re a mouse, not a man. You’ve got to
- indignantangered at something unjust or wrongA piece of paper trembled at the end of one of her
- destinedgoverned by fateIn the dungeon, there were rats. Large rats. Mean rats. Despereaux was
destined to meet those rats.
- conformbe similar, be in line withReader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not
- abandongive up with the intent of never claiming againDespereaux's brothers and sisters soon
abandoned the thankless task of trying to educate him in the ways of being a mouse.
- indulgeenjoy to excessNow, while Despereaux did not
indulge in many of the normal behaviors of mice, he did adhere to one of the most basic and elemental of all mice rules: Do not ever, under any circumstances, reveal yourself to humans.
- instinctinborn pattern of behavior often responsive to stimuliThe music made him lose his head and act against the few small mouse
instincts he was in possession of, and because of this he revealed himself; and in no time at all, he was spied by the sharp-eyed Princess Pea.
- captivatingattracting and holding interest as if by a spellThe song was as sweet as light shining through stained-glass windows, as
captivating as the story in a book.
- executecarry out or perform an actionAnd,
executing a classic scurry, Furlough went off to tell his father, Lester Tilling, the terrible, unbelievable news of what he had just seen.
- tribunalan assembly to conduct judicial business“He must be punished. He must be brought up before the
- affecthave an influence uponThe beating of the drum let them know that an important decision would have to be made, one that
affected the safety and well-being of the entire mouse community.
- dismaythe feeling of despair in the face of obstaclesThey listened with their whiskers drooping and their ears flat against their heads. They listened in
dismay and outrage and fear.
- indisputablenot open to question; obviously trueHumans cannot be trusted. We know this to be an
- consortkeep company withA mouse who
consorts with humans, a mouse who would sit right at the foot of a man, a mouse who would allow a human to touch him—and here, the entire Mouse Council indulged in a collective shiver of disgust—cannot be trusted.
- ferventcharacterized by intense emotionFellow mice, it is my most
fervent hope that Despereaux has not spoken to these humans.
- distinctiveof a feature that helps to identify a person or thing“It is simply not done!” came the
distinctive voice of Despereaux's aunt Florence.
- civilizedmarked by refinement in taste and manners“This trial will be conducted in an orderly fashion. We will act
- egregiousconspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensibleFirst, we will give you a chance to defend yourself against these rumors of your
- decreedecide with authorityYou are to be sent, as ancient castle-mouse law
decrees, to the dungeon.
- repentfeel sorry for; be contrite aboutRepent. Say that you are sorry you sat at the foot of the human king. Say that you are sorry you allowed the human princess to touch you.
- surgerise or move forwardThe whole of the mouse community
surged toward Despereaux.
- burlymuscular and heavily builtAnd as Despereaux stood before them with the red thread around his neck and the fourteen members of the Mouse Council perched on the bricks above him, two
burly mice came forward.
- unbearableincapable of being put up withThat he would not be able to let the princess know what had become of him seemed suddenly
unbearable to the mouse.
- appropriatesuitable for a particular person, place, or situationAs our story progresses, “perfidy” becomes an ever more
appropriate word, doesn’t it?
- abyssa bottomless gulf or pitThey stood, the three mice, two with hoods and one without, and contemplated the
abyss before them.
- encompassinclude in scopeDespereaux had never before encountered darkness so awful, so all-encompassing.
- courtesya polite, respectful, or considerate actHe deemed it the only reasonable response to the situation in which he found himself, but then he remembered the words of the threadmaster: honor,
courtesy, devotion, and bravery.
- callusa skin area that is thick or hard from continual pressureWhen Despereaux awoke, he was cupped in the large,
callused hand of a human and he was staring into the fire of one match and beyond the match there was a large, dark eye looking directly at him.
- beleaguersurround so as to force to give upThe man blew the candle out and the darkness descended and the man’s hand closed more tightly around Despereaux and Despereaux felt his
beleaguered heart start up a crazy rhythm of fear.
- ironyincongruity between what might be expected and what occursYou are talking to Gregory the jailer, who, in the richest of
ironies, is nothing but a prisoner here himself.
- treacherousdangerously unstable and unpredictableHere, in this dungeon, you are in the
treacherous dark heart of the world.
- tragicvery sad, especially involving grief or death or destructionGregory has seen it many times, the
tragic end of a mouse.
- illuminatemake lighter or brighterAnother match was struck; the candle was lit again, and Gregory held it up so that its flame
illuminated a massive, towering, teetering pile of spoons and kettles and soup bowls.
- timewornrepeated too often; overfamiliar through overuseHe raised his hand higher and then higher still until Despereaux's whiskers brushed against his leathery,
(updated March 6, 2019)