Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl Vocabulary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Reading Anne Frank's diary gives us a glimpse into the life of a group of Jewish people in hiding during the horrors of the Holocaust. In this lesson, we will look at some of the vocabulary terms we find in the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl.'

Imagining the Unimaginable

Imagine playing a game of hide-and-seek. Only instead of the usual game we think of, which may take only a few minutes, imagine playing for two years. While such a game is difficult for us to imagine, it is that kind of situation that Anne Frank's family found themselves in. Except instead of trying to win a game, they were hiding for their lives.

The Holocaust may be over, but it is still important to learn about the events of World War II. It is hard to imagine what it was like for people living during the war, especially the Jewish, who feared for their lives. One of the ways we can learn more about that horrible time is through reading Anne Frank's diary, published as The Diary of a Young Girl, a first-hand account of the Frank family's two years hiding from the German police. As hard as it may be to put ourselves in their shoes, reading her diary gives us a glimpse. One way to make that glimpse clearer is to understand some of the more challenging vocabulary terms. Below, we will look at definitions for some of those terms, as well as examples that illustrate their meaning.

Vocabulary Terms

Confide - Share private, personal thoughts or feelings with someone you trust.

Anne hoped that she would be able to confide in her diary because she did not trust anyone else with her personal thoughts and feelings. She wanted to be able to share everything she thought or felt without worrying about how her diary would react.

Capitulate - To give up fighting or arguing with someone or something, or to surrender.

An army might capitulate, or surrender, when they run out of supplies or are surrounded by their enemy.

Fatalistic - Believing things are fated or destined to turn out a certain way, and there is nothing you can do to change them.

If you think the result of something is predetermined, such as whether you will have a child or a if a war will be won by one side or the other, you might be fatalistic.

Clandestine - Secretly, or something done without anyone else knowing.

While in hiding, Anne and her family had help from a few kind people who were in charge of bringing them food and other supplies. Bringing the food and other errands had to be clandestine, or secretive, because they could all be killed if caught.

Pedantic - Nitpicky, too focused on small mistakes or correcting minor problems.

It would be pedantic to focus on one incorrect comma if every word in a sentence is misspelled.

Quarrel - Argument or verbal disagreement.

Living in close quarters with a lot of people and experiencing stressful situations can lead to lots of disagreements. Anne and her family shared a small space and limited supplies with another family, which led to a lot of quarrels.

Tumultuous - Almost confusingly loud or exciting; noisy and not orderly.

The first day of school, when everyone is learning where to go and what to do, can often be noisy and disorderly, or tumultuous.

Coquette - A woman or girl who flirts a lot in order to get attention from men.

We usually think of a coquette as a girl who bats her eyelashes a lot, or giggles at boys' jokes in order to be the center of attention.

Tirade - Speaking loudly about something that makes you angry, a rant.

Sometimes people get worked up during the political season, and they will go on a tirade about the things they don't like about a particular candidate.

Diligent - Persistent in a work effort.

Ants are diligent when building their ant hills because they keep working even though they can only carry small pieces at a time.

Indignant - Angry or upset because you feel something is unjust or unfair.

Children often seem indignant when they feel they are getting in more trouble than their brother or sister for doing the same thing wrong.

Despondent - Hopelessly sad.

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