KA WORDCAST Passages Lesson 2, Part TWO

KA WORDCAST Passages Lesson 2, Part TWO

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Passages Lesson Two Reading Passage

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KA WORDCAST Passages Lesson Two, Part TWO

The eight key words in today’s lesson come from the same passage in Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech’s novel for young people, as that used in the last lesson.  Sal, the thirteen-year-old heroine, has driven a car out to the site of an accident where, a year earlier, a bus slid off the road, crashed through a guardrail, and plummeted down a steep hill, killing everyone on board except one person.  Sal climbs down to check the bus out, looking for clues that might tell her what has happened to her missing mother.  All the key words, by the way, are short, simple verbs and adjectives (and we’ve included lots of common expressions and phrasal verbs based on them) that describe everyday actions—words that, once mastered, you should be able to put to good use in your own descriptive writing.

To listen to a recording of the passage, please tune in to the KA VOICECAST website. 




The bus lay on its side like an old sick horse, its broken headlights STARING out mournfully into the surrounding trees.

STARE is a verb that means to look at something for a long time, usually out of curiosity and wonder, but also, sometimes, out of anger, or, as in the sentence above, longing and sadness.  Synonyms include gaze, gape, and gawk.

Naomi continued to STARE out the window, as if she hadn’t heard me speaking to her.

Cameron looked at the test sheet and STARED helplessly at the unmarked map of South America, angry with himself for not studying harder for the geography final.

How many hours do you spend each day STARING at your computer screen?

STARE is also used passively and means to be looked at in an unpleasantly obvious or striking way, either by a person or by something that is upsetting or disturbing.

“I really wish Harry would stop STARING at me,” Mika confided to her friend Jolene.  “He’s making me very uncomfortable!”

The horrific images of the burning World Trade Center buildings STARED out at us from the photo, reminding us of the devastating events that took place on 9/11 nearly twelve years ago. 

Poverty and misery STARED back at us as the leader of the charity organization we’d volunteered to serve drove us through the slums of Mumbai during our orientation tour.

A common idiom associated with STARE is BE STARING SOMEONE IN THE FACE, which means either (1) to be obvious or (2) to be certain to happen and almost impossible to avoid.

The next move was STARING Tom IN THE FACE, but he sat gazing at the chessboard as his opponent held his breath, sensing imminent victory.

Defeat was STARING the Gunners IN THE FACE, but at the last minute, the team managed to score two quick goals and come out on top.

The Larsen brothers were constantly STARING foreclosure IN THE FACE, but they worked hard to keep the small dairy farm their father had left them from going under.

The noun STARE means the act of looking at something for a long time, often in a scornful, unfriendly way.

Lana gave Benjamin a cold STARE before turning around and stomping out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Sue tried to explain why she was late coming home from her date, but her father just stood there arms akimbo giving her a blank STARE, not believing a word she was saying.

A homonym is a word that is spelled or pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning.  STARE has a common homonym, STAIR, though it is usually used in its plural form, STAIRS, which is a set of steps leading from one floor of a building to another.

The furniture deliverymen were huffing and puffing after carrying a full living-room suite up four flights of STAIRS to our apartment.



I climbed up onto the bus’s side, hoping to make my way down to an open window, but there were two enormous gashes TORN into the side, and the jagged metal was peeled back like a sardine tin.

In the sentence above, TORN is the past participle of the verb to TEAR, which has several meanings and uses.  Most commonly, TEAR means to damage or destroy something by ripping it apart or pulling it into pieces, usually by hand.  Shred and rip are the most common synonyms.

The wartime letters and other documents we found in the attic in great-grandfather’s trunk are delicate and TEAR easily, so handle them very carefully.

Tanya took frugality and couponing to an extreme level, even secretly TEARING out coupons from the magazines she thumbed through in her doctor’s waiting room.

TEAR can also mean to make a hole in something by a force of some kind.  Synonyms include gash, lacerate, pierce, and cut open.

The gas explosion that TORE a hole in the wall of Kenny’s apartment building injured several passers-by on the street outside, but luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

In his anger, Jason threw a coffee mug at the door Hanna had just walked out of, missed, and ended up TEARING a hole in the kitchen wall.

My son came home with a big rip in his brand-new jeans.  “A nail sticking out of the fence at school TORE them,” he said, sobbing.  “Look, Mom, it scratched my leg, too.”

TEAR, combined with various prepositions, also means to remove something from something else by pulling or tugging at it violently.  Rip is the mist common synonym.

Last night’s 100-mile-an-hour winds TORE the roof FROM the old shed in our back yard.

After a long, hot day TEARING UP old rotten floorboards in his summer home, Brian TORE OFF his clothes and dove into the lake to cool down.

TEAR is also often used in the phrase TEAR ONESELF AWAY, which means to get away in a hurry from something dangerous, or to leave something you don’t want to leave because you are enjoying it so much.

Anita TORE HERSELF AWAY from her assailant and, shouting for help, ran towards a group of diners just coming out of a restaurant.

Walt was wrapped up in his favorite TV morning talk show and had to TEAR HIMSELF AWAY to get ready for work.

TEAR also means to damage a muscle by stretching it too much.

Franco TORE a calf muscle in last night’s basketball game and will be on the disabled list for at least a month.

TEAR is also used informally to mean to move very quickly.  The best synonyms are speed and race.

Three patrol cars TORE down the highway at top speed in pursuit of a suspected bank robber.

Aoki ripped a line drive into right center, TORE around the bases, and pulled into third with a stand-up triple.

And lastly, TEAR can be used hyphenated with other words to mean very affected or damaged by something.

United Nations peacekeeping forces were sent into the strife-TORN region to monitor the ceasefire.

Supplies had to be airlifted into the flood-TORN area.

The civil-war-TORN country was in chaos as all public services shut down and food ran out.

There are several useful idioms associated with TEAR.  TO BE TORN BETWEEN means to not be able to choose between two things or people, or to have mixed feelings about something.

Erika WAS TORN BETWEEN visiting her family in Tokyo during the summer vacation and attending her best friend’s wedding in Los Angeles.

Private Turner WAS TORN BETWEEN his desire to defend his country and his growing realization that the war itself was not a just cause.

TO TEAR SOMETHING or SOMEONE APART means to completely destroy or defeat that thing or person.  It can also mean to criticize something or someone severely.

The Franklin Bears’ football team TORE their semifinal opponents APART and advanced to the Washington State finals.

Film director M. Night Shyamalan, known for his multi-award winning film The Sixth Sense, was TORN APART by the critics for his latest release, After Earth.

TO TEAR INTO SOMEONE means to attack him/her physically or verbally.  TO TEAR INTO SOMETHING (project, assignment, etc.) means to start doing it with a lot of energy.

Jack TORE INTO his younger brother for showing his parents where he kept his stash of cigarettes, and for getting him in big trouble.

To TEAR UP means to destroy something made of paper by ripping it into pieces.

Heartbroken by the break-up, Zara TORE UP all the letters and cards she had received from her ex-boyfriend Deon during their three-year courtship.

Before you throw important documents away in the trash, be sure to TEAR them UP or shred them in a shredder to protect your privacy.

To TEAR DOWN means to raze.

The mayor wanted to TEAR DOWN the old theater, but a group of citizens successfully campaigned to preserve it.

TEAR is also a noun that means a hole made by TEARING something.  Synonyms include rip, hole, gash, and slit.

Denise held the TEAR in her wedding gown together with a safety pin.

For some reason, jeans with big TEARS in them are all the rage right now.

The phrase WEAR AND TEAR is used to describe damage that comes as a result of normal use over time.

Our tenant agreement specifies that we are not liable for normal WEAR AND TEAR, but that any other damage will be deducted from our damage deposit.

By the way, a homograph is a word that is spelled the same as another word but pronounced differently and has a different meaning.  The homograph for TEAR is TEAR, the clear liquid that comes out of your eyes when you cry.

The president had TEARS in his eyes as he delivered the eulogy for the late Supreme Court Justice.



Wet with dew, straggly branches slapped and SCRATCHED at my legs and hid uneven ground so that several times I tripped, tumbling and sliding downward.

SCRATCH, in the sentence above, is a verb that means to cut or damage the skin or other surface slightly with something sharp.  Synonyms include graze, scrape, cut, and scuff.

Dogs may nip at and even bite you when you frighten or rile them, but cats are more likely to SCRATCH at you with their claws, even if you do nothing to provoke them.

One of the boys fell into the blackberry bushes as he was picking berries and was SCRATCHED from head to toe.

Similarly, SCRATCH can mean to make a mark by scoring a surface with a sharp or pointed object.

Some vandal SCRATCHED my car door with a key in the grocery-store parking lot.

The old oak tree in Kingston Park is covered with hearts and the names of hundreds of lovers who have SCRATCHED their initials into it over the years.

Without a proper playing field, the boys made do in the empty lot behind the church, SCRATCHING lines in the dirt to mark out the bases and home plate.

SCRATCH has several other meanings, the most common of which is to rub your skin with your fingernails, usually to relieve an itch.

Tyler SCRATCHED at the mosquito bite on his leg until it bled.

Our dog Buster stretched, yawned, and began SCRATCHING himself vigorously behind the ear.

SCRATCH also means to remove an outer coating of something by pulling a sharp implement such as a blade or fingernail over it.

Before we could begin painting the wall in our living room, we first had to SCRATCH away the hideous floral wallpaper left behind by the previous owners.

Bianca nervously SCRATCHED off her fingernail polish as she waited in the consultation room to hear the result of her mammogram test.

SCRATCH is also a slangy or informal verb that means to cancel an event or to withdraw a person from a planned event.

NASA had to SCRATCH the launch of its latest space shuttle mission due to poor weather and extreme winds.

Just moments before the inter-school football final, Morgan was SCRATCHED from the starting line-up for talking back to the coach.

To SCRATCH also means to make an irritating sound using something sharp.

We heard mice or squirrels or, heaven forbid, rats SCRATCHING around in the attic and called in an exterminator to check it out.

There are several useful idioms and phrasal verbs associated with the verb SCRATCH.  TO SCRATCH OUT usually refers to the removal of a word in a text by drawing a line through it.

I was surprised when my essay came back with only a few lines SCRATCHED OUT.  My editor usually cuts out about half of everything I write.

Other things can be SCRATCHED OUT, too, as in this example.

“SCRATCH OUT scenes 12, 25, and 41 from the script,” the film director shouted at his crew.  “Who wrote this gratuitous rubbish anyway?”

TO SCRATCH OUT A LVING means to barely make enough money to live on.  A common synonym is to eke out a living or to make ends meet.

The Millers barely SCRATCH OUT A LIVING from the organic bakery stall they run at the local farmer’s market, but they seem to be content with their simple and hassle-free life.

TO SCRATCH ONE’S HEAD OVER SOMETHING means to think really hard to try to find the right answer or solution.

Experts have been SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS OVER the sudden decrease in the male koi fish population in the Tama River.  

TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE OF SOMETHING means to deal with or understand it but only in a very superficial way.

We spent the entire weekend clearing out Mrs. Rodriguez’s home and garage after she moved into a nursing a home, but we’ve only SCRATCHED THE SURFACE so far.

The TV series “The Tudors” only SCRATCHED THE SURFACE of the world of Henry VIII and his many wives, but if you dig deeper into the history books, you will find a fascinating tale of scandal, deception, and manipulation.

Now let’s move on to the noun SCRATCH.   A SCRATCH is a mark or wound made by SCRATCHING someone’s skin or the surface of something.   Synonyms include graze, scrape, abrasion, and mark.

Michael was lucky to come out of that motorcycle accident with only a few minor bruises and SCRATCHES.

“Don’t worry!” Carlos said as he dabbed at his wound with an antiseptic wipe.  “It’s only a SCRATCH!”

This miracle cream, now available for the low price of $14.99, removes SCRATCHES from paintwork without the use of harsh abrasives.

The noun SCRATCH also means the act of SCRATCHING a part of your body to relieve an itch.

“Orson was giving his head a good SCRATCH during class, so could you please check him for head lice?” the kindergarten teacher said to the boy’s mother.

SCRATCH is also an unpleasant sound made by something sharp or rough being rubbed against a surface.

We heard a SCRATCH at the door in the middle of the night and discovered that our old Labrador had returned after nearly three days on the lam.

SCRATCH can also be used as a modifier to describe a small defect.

What’s the best way to remove SCRATCH marks from windowpanes?

Now look at some other common ways that SCRATCH is used as a modifier.

“Sorry that took so long,” I said to my husband.  “I was stuck at the cash register behind some woman who bought about $50 worth of SCRATCH CARD lottery tickets.”

Suzanne tore a sheet from a SCRATCH PAD and scribbled out a shopping list for tonight’s dinner party.

Malcolm uses the reverse side of printed matter as SCRATCH PAPER before he recycles it.

Two commonly used idioms associated with the noun SCRATCH are FROM SCRATCH and UP TO SCRATCH.  The first means without any previous preparations or knowledge, or from the very beginning.

To make this delicious apple pie FROM SCRATCH, you will first need five or six large sweet-tart apples.

My dad always boasts about his pancakes, but he makes his from a mix, while I make mine FROM SCRATCH!

We found an error in our research methodology and had to start over FROM SCRATCH.

The second means satisfactory, and is often used in the negative.

I’m afraid your work on this project has not been UP TO SCRATCH. 

To ensure that your writing comes UP TO SCRATCH, try to revise it with an objective editor’s eye for detecting wordiness as well as errors in grammar and syntax.

SCRATCH can be used as an adjective to describe something that has put been together in a hurry using whatever people or materials are available.

During the 15th century, many British warships set sail for France from Dover with SCRATCH crews consisting only of local farmers and vagabonds who had been pressed into service.

In golf, a SCRATCH player is one with a handicap of zero.

My husband didn’t stand a chance against his boss Richard, who is a SCRATCH player and semi-professional golfer.

Another adjective is SCRATCHY. SCRATCHY clothes are rough and unpleasant to the touch.  A SCRATCHY voice or sound is unpleasant and irritating.  SCRATCHY writing or drawings are done without care.  Look at these examples.

Every Christmas, my Aunt Doris knits SCRATCHY sweaters with a holiday motif on them for all of us kids.

Joan’s voice sounded SCRATCHY over the phone.  I think she might be coming down with a cold.

“Mom, my throat feels SCRATCHY and sore.  Can I stay home from school?”

My doctor scrawled out a prescription for penicillin in his SCRATCHY, almost illegible handwriting.



Wet with dew, straggly branches slapped and scratched at my legs and hid uneven ground so that several times I TRIPPED, tumbling and sliding downward.

The verb TRIP means to catch your foot on something so that you fall or almost fall over.  Synonyms include stumble, lose one’s footing, slip, and (informally) wipe out.

Move those camera and sound cables before someone TRIPS over them and gets seriously hurt.

A cat bolted out of nowhere, and Georgie TRIPPED over it and fell down a flight of stairs.

You can also TRIP someone else by catching his/her foot, often with your own foot or leg.

The striker was handed a yellow card by the referee for purposely TRIPPING his opponent.

As I passed by him on my way to receive my certificate for Good Attendance, that bully Blake stuck out his leg and tried to TRIP me.

In electronics, TRIP means to (1) release a switch or operate something by doing so, or (2) to disconnect something automatically as a safety measure.  Synonyms for (1) include set off, trigger, activate, and turn on.  Synonyms for (2) include deactivate, shut off, and switch off.

As a train runs along a track, a weight sensor sends a current to TRIP the railroad-crossing signal.

Something must have TRIPPED the electricity while we were away, because when we got home, all our clocks were flashing zeroes at us or off by several hours.

The phrasal verb TRIP UP means to make a mistake or to deliberately make someone do so.

Make sure you listen to your driving test examiner’s instructions carefully, as they will sometimes try to TRIP you UP with tricky commands.

The noun TRIP also has several different uses.  First of all, TRIP means the act of falling down, or nearly falling down, because you have hit your foot against something.

A TRIP on her high-heeled shoes sent Felicia tumbling down the aisle in her bridesmaid’s dress, causing everyone in the church to gasp and giggle.

TRIP, of course, has a meaning totally unrelated to the above kind of TRIP.  A TRIP is also a journey, especially a short one for leisure or a particular purpose.  Synonyms include vacation, holiday, visit, jaunt, and excursion.

The Robinsons took a family TRIP down the Grand Canyon on the back of mules.

Have you packed everything you need for your business TRIP?

We had to make several TRIPS in the moving van to haul everything from our old house to our new house.

A commonly used informal idiom is GUILT TRIP, which means something said to someone to make him/her feel bad or guilty.

According to Seventeen Magazine, you should never lay a GUILT TRIP on your boyfriend for wanting to go out with his friends on occasion.

TRIP is also the verb form.

When TRIPPING through Europe, try to find out where the locals dine rather than opting for the more familiar restaurant chains.

And finally, there is one popular slang expression that you might like to know, just for the fun of it.  A TRIP is something that is very enjoyable or amusing in some way.

The Comedy Central special I watched last night was a real TRIP.



Wet with dew, straggly branches slapped and scratched at my legs and hid uneven ground so that several times I tripped, tumbling and SLIDING downward.

SLIDE is a verb that means to move easily over a smooth or wet surface, or to make something move in this way.  Synonyms include glide, skate, and skid.

When we lived here as kids, we used to SLIDE down this grassy slope on flattened cardboard boxes.

If you need a bit more legroom back there in the backseat, I can SLIDE the front seat forward.

The automatic doors SLID open, and we felt a gust of cool, air-conditioned air as we rushed into the 7-11 seeking refuge from the steamy downpour.

The box was too heavy to lift, so I had to SLIDE it along the floor.

SLIDE also means to move quickly and quietly so as to not be noticed.  Synonyms include creep, skulk, and steal.

Nigel SLID out to the patio during his parents’ anniversary meal and signaled to the “surprise” string quartet to begin playing the song his parents thought of as “their” song.

I was quite late, and my daughter’s piano recital was well under way when I arrived, so I SLID into a seat at the back of the auditorium, hoping no one would notice.

Casey surreptitiously SLID a candy bar into her pocket as her mother was looking the other way and sneaked upstairs to her bedroom to eat her secret treat.

SLIDE can also mean to become less valuable, or to fall into a lower or worse situation.

Apple shares SLID to a two-year low amid rumors of patent infringement and lawsuits.

The credit-card bills were piling up, and the McGintys were SLIDING toward bankruptcy.

The phrase TO LET SOMETHING SLIDE means to let it deteriorate or worsen due to neglect.

Victor LET the state of his house SLIDE after his wife’s sudden death and refused to let anyone inside to help him tidy up.

I LET my grades SLIDE a bit during my sophomore year in high school, which is about the time I learned to drive and got interested in boys.

The noun SLIDE has many uses.  First of all, a SLIDE is a long, smooth movement on ice or some other smooth surface.

The front wheels caught the black ice, and Nina’s car went into a SLIDE down a steep hill.

A SLIDE is a piece of playground equipment with a steep slope for children to SLIDE down.

“Amber, you must wait for the person in front of you to get off the SLIDE before you SLIDE down,” her mother scolded her. “You don’t want to hurt someone, do you?”

SLIDE also means a change to a worse condition.  Synonyms for this usage include fall, decline, and downturn.

Thanks to tourist-drawing events like the 2012 London Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, and now the birth of the new Royal Prince, the UK hasn’t seen a SLIDE in tourism for several years

Without an increase in aid from donor nations, several already abjectly poor African countries will experience a steep SLIDE into even deeper poverty.

A sudden fall of a large amount of rock or dirt down a hillside or slope is also a SLIDE, often called a LANDSLIDE or ROCKSLIDE.

Peter crept along the rocky ridge, carefully watching each step so as to not start a SLIDE.

In photography, a SLIDE is a small piece of transparent film held in a frame that can be shown on a screen using a projector.  In science, a SLIDE is the small rectangular piece of glass that we place a specimen on when we want to look at it under a microscope.

Oh, no!  The McCullochs have invited us over again, this time, I’m afraid, to show us SLIDES of their bird-watching trip to Alberta.  

My biology teacher told me to put a drop of a murky solution on the SLIDE and try to identify what’s in it.

Another noun form, SLIDER, is a device you SLIDE up and down or side to side to control something such as the volume of a radio.

I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of the SLIDER function on my new iPhone 5.

To increase the volume, move the SLIDER to the right.

For baseball fans, a SLIDER is a pitch that moves abruptly left or right as the ball nears home plate.

The rookie pitcher has a wicked SLIDER that so far has baffled both left- and right-handed hitters, and made him the league leader in strikeouts.

SLIDING is a modifier used in some common word pairs.  A SLIDING DOOR is a door that SLIDES across an opening rather than swinging away from it.  A SLIDING SCALE is a system in which a rate or fee varies depending on the situation or circumstance.

I shouldn’t let it bother me, but the SLIDING DOORS at the entrance of the so-called authentic twelfth-century castle ruined the whole experience for me.

Japanese national medical insurance premiums are based on a SLIDING SCALE, with the more affluent members of society paying higher annual fees.



Through a SMASHED window behind the driver’s seat, I saw a jumbled mass of twisted seats and chunks of foam rubber.

SMASHED in the sentence above is an adjective that means badly broken or damaged.  Synonyms include shattered, in pieces, fragmented, and in bits.

The junkyard is filled with SMASHED cars from which undamaged parts can be collected and resold.

Ted is being treated for a SMASHED collarbone and dislocated shoulder after he fell off his skateboard at the skate park this morning.

There is slang usage for SMASHED that you might come across in fictional dialogue and so should be able to recognize.  It means inebriated or intoxicated from drinking too much alcohol.  Synonyms are drunk, ripped, wasted, and loaded.

I was so nervous before the interview that I decided to sneak a quick drink to boost my confidence and ended up getting SMASHED and missing the interview altogether.

The verb SMASH means to break something or, passively, to be broken violently into many pieces.  Synonyms include shatter and splinter.

Traditionally, after a Jewish bride receives the wedding ring, the groom breaks a glass on the floor and SMASHES it with his right foot.

We came home after a lovely evening out to find several windows had been SMASHED and all our furniture upturned and broken.

During the earthquake my grandmother’s crystal vase fell off the mantel, dropped to the floor, and SMASHED into hundreds of pieces. 

SMASH also means to collide into something with a lot of force or to make something do this.   Synonyms for this usage include crash into, hit, and plow into.

Lindy lost control of the car on the icy freeway and SMASHED into the guardrail.

The crane operator swung the cable and SMASHED the wrecking ball into the side of the old building.

SMASH can also mean to strike something very hard, usually a door or window, in order to get through it.

When little Ashleigh accidentally locked herself in the guest bathroom, her dad had to SMASH the door open to get her out.

In sport, SMASH means to strike or hit a ball or score a goal with a lot of force.

Brian Lara SMASHED the ball into the outfield and scored a six, leading the West Indies cricket team to victory over Pakistan.

Jeter SMASHED a scorching liner straight into the glove of the third-baseman.

SMASH also means to hit or attack someone violently.  Synonyms include strike, punch, and smack.

Doug SMASHED a bottle over the intruder’s head and knocked him out before calling 911 for help.

SMASH can also mean to break or beat a record.  A popular synonym is shatter.

Usein Bolt SMASHED his own world record of 9.72 seconds when he ran the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds at the Beijing Olympics.

And lastly, SMASH means to completely destroy or defeat someone or something, usually something criminal.

The Drug Enforcement Agency claimed to have SMASHED a major drug ring on the Texas-Mexico border.

As a noun, SMASH has all kinds of meanings, too.  For one, it means the act or sound of something SMASHING.

The mirror hit the floor with a loud SMASH that woke everyone in the house.

A SMASH is also another word for a car accident.

There’s been a car SMASH on the interstate that is slowing traffic in both directions to a crawl.

In tennis, volleyball, badminton, and some other sports, a SMASH is a way of hitting a ball or shuttlecock downwards and very hard.

The forehand SMASH was first used in tennis by Helena Rice during the 1890 Wimbledon Championships.

And lastly, a SMASH is a song, movie, or television program that is extremely popular.

Rhianna’s latest SMASH, Right Now!, is Number 1 on Billboard’s Top 100.

The adjective SMASHING is an outdated slang expression, but good to know anyway: you might come across it in some older stories or movie dialogues.  Something that is SMASHING is very attractive or enjoyable.

Wow, Bruce! You look absolutely SMASHING tonight in your tux!

We had a SMASHING good time at my cousin Andrew’s college graduation party last weekend.



Through a smashed window behind the driver’s seat, I saw a jumbled mass of TWISTED seats and chunks of foam rubber.

TWISTED is an adjective that means bent or warped so that the object’s original shape is lost.

The train wreck left a trail of TWISTED metal and debris across the tracks for nearly a mile.

The only way to treat a TWISTED ankle is to ice it and keep it elevated.

Not at all impressed with the bizarre, TWISTED pieces of bedroom furniture displayed as art in Gallery Four, Zoe hurried through the exhibit and moved on to the next.

For as long as I can remember, Belinda has worn her hair in a matronly TWISTED knot on top of her head every single day.

When speaking of a person’s mind or behavior, or of a situation, TWISTED is an informal expression that means strange, odd, abnormal, or creepy.

As I stood on the platform waiting for my train home, a man across the way shot me a weird, TWISTED smile.

Comedian Milton Jones’ TWISTED sense of humor has won him legions of fans in the UK.

Did something happen to change Grace’s character, or has she always been so bitter and TWISTED?

Everyone says it’s great, but I find the television series Dexter too TWISTED and graphic for my taste.

Another adjective form is TWISTING, which means full of sharp turns.  In informal speech, TWISTING often becomes TWISTY.

Locals are petitioning to lower the speed limit on the narrow, TWISTING (TWISTY) road that leads up to the lighthouse on top of Deadman’s Hill.

The verb TWIST means to bend or turn something into a particular shape, or into a shape that is not normal.

In the old days, we had to TWIST a coat hanger into a circle to form a makeshift antenna for our TV when we were having trouble with our reception.

Brogan seized his wrestling opponent, TWISTED his arm around his back, and held him down on the mat for a pin.

A piece of paper got TWISTED up inside my printer and I had a terrible time getting it out.

TWIST also means to turn your body or head in to a particular direction.

As instructed, Shinae TWISTED her head over her right shoulder to look out the rear-view window while backing her car into a parking space.

Olivia’s pet pig Daisy TWISTED and turned to avoid being caught and put back into the pen.

TWIST also means to turn something around with your hand.  Synonyms include rotate, twirl, wind, coil, and wrap.

You can always tell when Oscar is nervous about something.  He TWISTS his wedding ring around and around on his finger and taps his right foot.

Collette TWISTED a lock of hair around her finger and smiled coyly at her date.

The phrase TWIST OFF means to remove something by turning it, usually with difficulty.

To open a medicine bottle with a child-safety lock, you must first press down on the cap before TWISTING OFF the lid.

When speaking about roads or rivers, TWIST means to bend and change direction often.  Synonyms include curve, turn, wind, and meander.

Chesham Road TWISTS and turns through a couple of quaint little villages where you can stop and have a traditional English pub lunch.

To TWIST a fact or piece of information means to deliberately change it in order to deceive someone.  Synonyms include misrepresent, distort, and falsify.

Max TWISTED my words to make it seem as though I’d said I wasn’t enjoying myself at the party, when in fact it was he who wanted to go home early.

Fed up with the tabloids TWISTING facts to sell papers, the young starlet took action into her own hands and sued the Hollywood Daily for libel.

The noun TWIST also has various uses.  First, TWIST means the act of turning the body or head around, or of turning or winding something with your hand.

The door of the church opened, and we all TWISTED around in our pews to see who the late arrival was.

“I deserve more than a simple TWIST of the head when I enter the room,” Dad said, setting down his briefcase.  “How about a ‘Hi, Dad.  How was your day?’”

Manny gave the pickle jar lid a light tap and a TWIST and smiled triumphantly at his wife as he set the open jar on the counter.

A TWIST is also a bend or turn in a road or river.

You’ll want to slow down as you approach the sharp TWIST just past the old brewery, as trucks often come tearing down that road at high speed.

We drove the car up the TWISTS and turns of the mountain road before pulling over at a rest area near the top to have our picnic lunch.

TWIST can also refer to something that has been TWISTED into a particular shape.

I like my gin and tonic with a TWIST of lime.

To me, a movie isn’t a movie without hot, buttered popcorn and red licorice TWISTS.

A TWIST can also be an unexpected development in a story, script, or situation.   It can also mean a new outlook or treatment.

The novel’s unexpected plot TWIST caught me off guard.  I didn’t see it coming at all.

The disappearance of one of the key witnesses added a new TWIST to the case against the mob leader.

By a curious TWIST of fate, Lenny and I ran into each other at a cafe in Tokyo, nearly ten years after we had first met in the departure lounge at SeaTac Airport.

The Camden Town Performers take classic fairy tales such as Rapunzel and The Snow Queen and give them a contemporary urban TWIST.

The TWIST is also a style of dance that was popular in the 1960s.

At last night’s Sock Hop fundraiser for our charity group, we all danced the TWIST, the Mashed Potato, and the Monkey, feeling like teenagers once again. 

And just for the record, TWISTER is another word for a cyclone or tornado, as well as a popular party game.

The violent TWISTER ripped through the sleepy town of Moore, Oklahoma, killing and injuring many people.

If you’ve ever played the original TWISTER game, you’ll know that you sometimes end up in some very awkward and even painful positions.



Most of the huge rubber tires were PUNCTURED and grotesquely twisted on their axles.

PUNCTURE is a verb that means to make or get a small hole in something such as a tire or your skin.  Synonyms include pierce, rupture, cut, and deflate.

Last night, as I was driving home from choir practice, I ran over a broken bottle and PUNCTURED a rear tire.

Noah was suspended from school when CCTV cameras on school grounds revealed that it was he who was PUNCTURING the other pupils’ bicycle tires.

Ian was taken to the hospital yesterday with broken ribs that he sustained when he smashed into another bicyclist.  Luckily, he hadn’t PUNCTURED a lung.

PUNCTURE also means to say something that makes someone feel less confident or proud.

Don’t let a tyrant boss like Mr. Bosworth PUNCTURE your pride like that.  Stand up to him and tell him to back off.

Quinn walked off the stage devastated, her dream of becoming a dancer PUNCTURED by the harsh words of the director.

The noun PUNCTURE means a small hole made by a sharp object in a tire or other inflatable object (ball or plastic pool, for example).

Rather than trying to fix my flat tire using a repair kit for PUNCTURES, I called the roadside emergency service to come out and give me a hand.

I’d only been riding for about fifteen minutes when my bicycle tire got a PUNCTURE, putting an end to what I’d hoped would be a day out cycling around Lake Washington.

We had to buy the kids a new backyard pool because there was a PUNCTURE in the old one.

A PUNCTURE can also be a small hole in the skin made by a sharp point.

Anne was only two years old when she had to undergo several painful medical procedures, including a muscle biopsy and lumbar PUNCTURE.

PUNCTURE can also be used as a modifier that describes something such as a tire, other inflatable object, or someone’s ego or pride that has been PUNCTURED.

The man they brought in to the emergency room last night had PUNCTURE wounds on his arm that indicated a rattlesnake bite, and he was immediately given an antidote.


Tune in next week for words from Passages, Lesson THREE.