Determining Unknown Words

How do I figure out what that word means???

How can you use clues to help you determine the meaning of words that you don't know?

Use clue words to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words--Lesson 3 of 6 (Common Core RI.4.4)

Writers give us clues in a sentence or paragraph to help us determine unknown words.

In this picture, you can determine the meaning of the word entomologist based on the clues. The man is clearly afraid of the spider on the floor. We know that any word that ends in -ist is a person that studies something (example: scientist). So we know that an entomologist is a person who studies something and he can't be one, so we have to think about why. Well...he looks to be really afraid of that bug...so an entomologist MUST be a person who studies bugs (or something similar).

Think about what other words you could use to replace your unknown word that would still make the sentence make sense.

Use clues in the following sentences to determine the meaning of the underlined words.

1. Nick and Zach concurred with each other; they both thought that the Ravens were going to win the Superbowl.

a. disagreed b. fought c. agreed d. watched football


2. Aislinn has hidden the note in an undisclosed location; no one knows and no one will EVER know!

a. unknown b. popular c. public park d. famous


3. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

a. combination b. type of plastic c. type of sword d. different


4. The continents are slowly drifting apart. Since they are not stationary, North and South America will one day separate entirely.

a. moving slowly b. staying still c. creating eathquakes d. coming closer


5. Tim made a face and refused to eat the broccoli because he detested all vegetables.

a. loved b. shared c. planted d. hated


6. I didn’t want Sparky getting wet, so I beckoned him in my firmest voice to come in out of the rain.

a. took him for a walk b. gave him a bath c. called him d. gave him extra treats


7. Penny licked every last morsel of the chocolate chip brownie off her plate.

a. crumbs b. glass c. plate d. leftovers

Read the passage and use the clues within the passage to determine the unknown words.

Robin was so ecstatic about being able to visit England! She had never left Dallas before and now she was across a huge ocean exploring the sights and sounds of London. But it was a little bit confusing because they had different names of things in England than in the United States. For example, Robin had to wait in a queue anytime she was in a store and was waiting to be checked out. Robin got very flustered when she tried to order shrimp in a restaurant only to learn that they were called prawns! The day before she left she finally learned that crisps are something salty that you eat with a hot dog, hamburger or just for a snack. Even though her trip had been disorienting at times when she couldn't understand what people said, Robin had a great time on her holiday in England.


What do you think ecstatic means in this paragraph?


What do you think queue means in this paragraph?


What do you think flustered means in this paragraph?


What do you think crisps means in this paragraph?


What do you think disorienting means in this paragraph?


What do you think holiday means in this paragraph? (Hint: It does not mean an actual holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving)