The following is a list of vocabulary with definitions from the first part of Elie Wiesel’s Night.
We go through the words and definitions as a class, and I periodically give students vocabulary exercises to make sure they know how the use the words correctly. One of my favorite vocabulary exercises is to have students write grammatically correct and coherent sentences using as many of the vocabulary words as they can. They enjoy the challenge of using the words properly while trying to be as ridiculous as they can.
I also use vocabulary quizzes periodically during my Night Unit, which includes vocabulary, chapter questions, lesson plans, and everything else you need to teach the entire novel. Click here to learn more.
Section 1 (pg. 3 – pg. 22)
1. penury – extreme poverty
2. waiflike – neglected; uncared for
3. mysticism – a system of contemplative prayer and spirituality aimed at achieving direct intuitive experience of the divine
4. fraught – full of; involving
5. peril – danger
6. indulge – to satisfy or gratify
7. revelation – something revealed
8. insinuate – to suggest or imply
9. annihilate – destroy completely
10. anguish – extreme distress, suffering, or pain
11. sublime – supreme or outstanding
12. edict – command given by an authority
13. decree – formal order or command
14. ghetto – a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live
15. delusion – a false belief or opinion
16. anecdote – short story about an event
17. antechamber – waiting room
18. relic – something kept in remembrance; a surviving memorial of something past
19. phylactery – either of two small, black, leather cubes containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses 4–9 of Deut. 6, 13–21 of Deut. 11, and 1–16 of Ex. 13: one is attached with straps to the left arm and the other to the forehead during weekday morning prayers by Orthodox and conservative Jewish men.
20. hysteria – an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.
21. conflagration – destructive fire