Vocabulary Building: Divergent Chapter 5

This is a vocabulary memo from a novel Divergent chapter 5.

Author: Veronica Roth / Published in 2011

Just for a reference, the summary of a whole story can be found in the following post:

Books and Coffee
Vocabulary Building: Divergent Chapter 1
I am a huge fan of the Divergent series written by an American novelist Ms. Veronica Roth...more  
English Memo

Summary of Chapter 5

Finally, Beatrice and other 16-year old classmates choose their factions where their rest of the lives will be almost destined. The choices of Beatrice and Caleb (Beatrice's brother) shock their family. First, Caleb chooses Erudite, then Beatrice chooses Dauntless; both choose to leave their family and Abnegation.


I put「 」next to the word that I might forget the sound.

1engulf (v)encompass, flood, overwhelm, swallow up
2subsume (v) to consider or include as part of a more comprehensive one
3sentry (n)a member of a guard or watch
4concentric (adj)having a common center, as circles or spheres
5initiate (n)a person who has been initiated
6sizzle (v)to make a hissing sound, as in frying or burning
7precipice (n) a cliff with a vertical face
8war (v)fight
9disarray (n)anarchy, chaos, disorder
10muffled (adj)faint, muted, suppressed
11stumble (v)trip, stagger, fall
12jerk (n)a quick, sharp pull, a sudden movement
13deft (adj)dexterous, nimble, skillful, clever
14snag (v)catch up on an obstacle
15smug (adj)complacent, self-righteous, self-satisfied, egotistical
16nudge (v)push slightly with the elbow
17glare (v)to stare with a fiercely or angrily piercing look
18thrust (v)to extend
Alphabets inside the (): n - noun, v - verb, adj - adjective, adv - adverb
Using Dictionary.com & Thesaurus.com

Supplementary Comments

1. engulf

I included "engulf" in the chart to write a little comment for it. I often saw "engulf" in the TOEFL reading passages. So, if you happen to be preparing for TOEFL, I recommend you to remember this word. (Though this is just one of the bunch of TOEFL vocabulary.)

In the TOEFL reading (or listening) section, I remember "engulf" was used in the following context.

  • (as a part of glacier formation) Glaciers engulf rock formations as they move, then deposit the rock debris at way distant places.
  • (as one example of how fossils are preserved) Rapid falls of volcanic ash engulf animals and plants.

If you have a TOEFL exam ahead, good luck!

7. precipice

precipice means "a cliff with a vertical (or nearly vertical) face." according to Dictionary.com(https://www.dictionary.com/browse/precipice). In this chapter 5, "precipice" is used in the context that the youngsters are going to be a part of society as adults.

They stand on the precipice of adulthood,

Roth, V. (2011). Divergent, Chapter 5

I imagine the scene like this picture; standing on the cliff, facing the unknown future, and feeling obligations as an adult.

Most of them must be feeling tense and terrified because the choice cannot be reversed afterward.

I am impressed by the author's expression above; it is incredibly concise but contains a lot of information.

11. stumble

I'd rather make a comment for "trip" that I picked as a synonym of stumble.

When I hear "trip," the first thing that comes up to my mind is traveling. So, I was so surprised when I knew "trip" also had a meaning that to stumble as a verb.

Below is an example from Dictionary.com.

to trip over a child's toy.

Dictionary.com | https://www.dictionary.com/browse/trip

In fact, just yesterday, I actually heard a native English speaker used "trip" to mean "to stumble." He was a clerk at a grocery store, and he asked another clerk to move a basket on the aisle; "Someone's gonna trip on the basket."

Since it was after I had leaned the word "trip (as 'to stumble')," I felt like "Wow! They really use 'trip' to mean that!"


Parents' Words Before the Sibling's Choice

Before the unexpected choices of the siblings, their parents spoke to them; father said "See you soon*" and mother said "I love you. No matter what.*"

The father didn't have any doubts that his children would choose Abnegation. Seeing both chose different factions, he is terribly shocked and devastated.

On the other hand, their mother's words are mysterious: "I love you. No matter what.*" She might have known that her children might not choose Abnegation. It might be because she herself was from a different faction which will be revealed later in the book.

Anyways, her words let me feel mother's unconditional love. Especially, when said in this scene, it means a lot.

*Reference: Roth, V. (2011). Divergent, Chapter 5

Each Contributing to A Different Sector of Society

This chapter has the following impressive sentence:

“... Working together, ..., each contributing to a different sector of society. ..."

Roth, V. (2011). Divergent, Chapter 5

The "each" refers to a Faction.

I feel this applies to the real world. Being a generalist is also a good thing, but being a specialist in something is so powerful. In that way, each specialist can contribute to society from a different section with strong and deep knowledge and skills.

I have too many things that I am interested in, which might be a great thing in a way. But this sentence reminded me that I might need to pick one thing and brush that up. I'm working on it, though picking one thing is so difficult for me🙄 We'll see.

Roth, Veronica (2011). Divergent. Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins).
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