The Classroom Package: Reading Fun

Glossary of Rain Forest Terms

The following are important words or phrases found in the reading materials of The Classroom Package:

adapt - adjust or change according to the situation (adaptable - able to adapt)
agouti - a large jumping rodent that 'plants' trees by burying seeds
Amazon basin - the large forested region of South America drained by the Amazon River
Amazon rain forest - the South American tropical rain forest drained by the Amazon River
Amazon River - the second largest river in the world (of the largest river system in the world) located in northern South America; flowing west to east throughthe Amazon rain forest
amphibian - a class of animals including frogs and toads that are cold-blooded, smooth-skinned and lay jelly-like eggs
anaconda - the largest snake in the world (can reach 30'); a constrictor
ancestors - relatives of the past; people from whom one is descended
Andes Mountains - a chain of mountains that runs north-south on the western side of South America; primary source of Amazon River waters
anhinga - a.k.a. the snake bird; a long and thin-necked cormorant that dives and swims in water to catch fish, sometimes spearing them with its long thin bill; it sometimes sticks its neck out of the water, resembling a snake
ani - a black, thick billed cuckoo-like bird with a long tail
armadillo - an omnivorous, burrowing mammal with an armor-like covering consisting of jointed, bony plates
arthropod - a class of animals such as insects and spiders with segmented bodies and no backbone
atmosphere - the layers of gas surrounding the earth held in place by the earth's gravity; it protects the earth from harmful sun rays and regulates the earth's climate
balsa - the lightest wood in the world; often used for crafts including model airplanes
bamboo - the hard woody stem of a hollow grass-like plant; often used for fishing poles, crafts and construction
barbasco - a plant which contains a poisonous substance used to stun fish
bilingual - able to speak two languages
biology - the study of life and living things
blowgun - a long narrow tube made of chonta wood through which a poison-tipped dart is blown as a method of hunting
blue morpho - a class of butterflies with brilliant blue wing colors; one is the largest butterfly in the world
boa - a general term for a large nonpoisonous snake that coils around and suffocates its prey, including the boa constrictor
Bolivia - a landlocked South American country that contains the southwestern most part of the Amazon rain forest
Brazil - the largest country in South America containing over half of the Amazon rain forest
bushmaster - a large poisonous snake of the pit viper family
caiman - an alligator-like tropical reptile
canopy - the upper continuous layer of a forest formed by the crowns of trees; home of most rain forest animals (sometimes called crown canopy)
capybara - the largest rodent in the world (can reach 4'); lives near and often feeds in water
Caribbean Sea - a part of the western Atlantic Ocean mostly surrounded by the coasts of Central and South America and the West Indies
cassava - the edible starchy tubular root of a shrubby plant by the same name; a staple food in many tropical parts of the world (also called manioc)
catastrophe - an event that brings great loss, sadness or suffering
ceiba - the silk-cotton wood tree from which the fabric kapok comes; often has huge twisting buttresses (sometimes called ceibo)
ceremonial - used in or having to do with rituals or festivals
clear-cut - to remove all of the trees in one area at the same time
climate - the overall weather patterns of an area
Colombia - a South American country that contains the northwestern-most part of the Amazon rain forest
colonize - to migrate to and settle in an area
community development project - a project that aims to improve one or more aspects of a community, often involving education and construction
continental United States - the United States not including Alaska and Hawaii
coral snake - a small deadly poisonous snake with red, yellow and black bands
corbina - a bass-like fish
Cuba - the largest island and country in the Caribbean Sea
culture - the sum of a people's history, traditions, beliefs, practices, etc. that makes them unique as a group of people
diversity - great variety; state of having many different forms or kinds
dugout canoe - a canoe carved out of one large tree trunk
ecosystem - the plants, animals and environment of an area and how they all work together
Ecuador - a small South American country straddling the equator, bordering the Pacific Ocean and containing the westernmost part of the Amazon rain forest
endangered - at risk of becoming extinct
equator - the imaginary line of zero degrees latitude that circles the earth half way  between the North and South poles
exploit - to get the most possible advantage from
extinct - no longer existing or living
festival - a community celebration often associated with a holiday or special occasion; usually involving a feast, games, activities and special clothing
fiber - threadlike filaments that come from a plant
generator - a gas-powered machine that produces electricity
gill net - a large fishing net set vertically in the water so that fish swimming into it get their gills caught in its mesh
Guyana - a small northern South American country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and containing part of the Amazon rain forest
heliconia - a plant related to the banana with a colorful flower
heron - a wading bird with long legs, neck and bill, often mostly white or grayish
history the past events and responses to them significant to a group of people
hoatzin - a.k.a. the stink-bird; a pheasant-sized poor flying vegetarian bird whose chicks have claws on their shoulders that aid in climbing; is brown and crested
howler monkey - medium-sized red or black leaf-eating monkey with loud roar
income - money gained from selling something or providing a service
interdependence - a relationship between two or more species in which the species depend on each other for survival
international company - a large company that operates in countries outside its own
jaguar - the endangered usually spotted but sometimes all black large cat which is the largest Amazonian mammal and at the top of the Amazon food chain
kapok - the silky fiber from the flower of the silk-cotton tree used for insulation and as padding in pillows, mattresses and life preservers
lagoon - a shallow lake
leaf cutter ant - a kind of ant that cuts and carries pieces of leaves to its underground home where the leaves are used as a fertilizer to cultivate a  fungus eaten by the ants
lifestyle - the way a person or a group of people lives
loam - soil made of sand, clay, silt and rotting plants
machete - a long knife with a large handle and a broad blade used for cutting vegetation
mahogany - a hard, reddish brown wood
mammal - a class of animal that generally is warm-blooded, has hair, has milk-producing glands and gives birth to live young
mother tongue - the first language a person learns as a child
myth - a very old traditional story that may involve supernatural forces and  explains something in nature or recounts an important part of a culture
natural resource - something in nature that has economic value (like lumber, oil, etc.)
Napo River - the largest river in Ecuador that flows from the Andes Mountains through the western part of the Amazon rain forest until it meets with the Amazon river in Peru
ocelot - an endangered nocturnal wildcat about the size of a bobcat that has a tan coat with black stripes and spots
official language - the language spoken in the government and in the schools of a country
Panama Canal - a human-made canal that passes through Panama and connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
papaya - a large and fleshy orange-yellow tropical fruit with black seeds
peccary - a tusked and hairy forest-dwelling pig-like animal
Peru - a country in western South America that contains part of the Amazon rain forest
pipeline - a continuous extension of pipes which are used to transport oil from one part of a country to another
piranha - a flat-bodied fish; most varieties have sharp teeth and very strong jaws
plain - a large extended area of flat land
plantain - a cooking banana often eaten as a starch staple in tropical areas of the world
point of view - the standpoint or view as seen from the eyes of a certain person or persons
poison arrow frog - a.k.a. poison dart frog; a small colorful frog with glands that produce poison which the frog uses to deter predators
predator - an animal that preys on other animals
pygmy marmoset - a small, fluffy, sap-drinking, insect-eating monkey-like animal; the smallest monkey in the world
Quichua - language of the Quichua people spoken by a wide range of Andean peoples previously dominated by the Incas (known as Quechua outside of Ecuador)
Quito - the capital city of Ecuador, located in the Andes Mountains; population: 1.2 million
rain forest - a forest that receives 100 to 400 inches of rainfall per year
range - the area in which a species normally lives and grows
rapids - the very fast-moving sections of a river, caused by the steep slope of the riverbed
reptile - a class of scaly-bodied, cold-blooded animals, such as snakes and lizards, that normally have lungs and lay hard-shelled eggs
runoff rainfall - rainfall that is not soaked up by the ground and instead runs into a river
scarlet macaw - a large red and blue parrot
sloth - a very slow-moving, tree-dwelling, leaf-eating mammal related to the anteater and armadillo
snowcap - the snow that covers a mountain peak
society - the people of a country as a whole
species - a single category of animals or plants that are capable of interbreeding
spider monkey - an endangered medium-sized monkey with very long arms and legs , and an even longer tail which it uses for climbing and grabbing
tagua - a very hard teardrop-shaped palm tree seed that is about the size of a golf ball, has an ivory-like interior, and is used to make jewelry and trinkets; it can be eaten before it turns hard
tapir - a large, nocturnal, hoofed mammal that has a heavy body, short legs and a long, fleshy, flexible upper lip which it uses to feed on water vegetation
thatch roof - a roof made of reeds, palm fronds, grass or other plant material
toucan - a colorful bird with a massive but light bill which it uses to crack nuts and tear open fruit
tourist - a person who travels for pleasure
traditional - as carried out or prescribed by previous generations in a culture
transparent - clear such as can be seen through
trilingual - able to speak three languages
tropical rain forest - a rain forest between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn which typically has constantly warm temperatures, heavy rainfall and a great diversity of species
Venezuela - a country in northern South America that borders the Caribbean Sea and contains part of the Amazon rain forest

English Borrow Words

English, like all other languages, borrows many of its words from other tongues. If, for example, English-speaking explorers encounter an animal that has no name in English, they might call that animal by the word for it in another language. 'Agouti' is such a word. In time, though the pronunciation may change, more and more English-speakers use the borrowed word. Eventually, it becomes an actual English word and can even be found in English dictionaries. The same thing happens with plants, foods, places and even ideas. In fact, English is mostly a language of borrowed words. Two out of every three words in the English language started as a word in a different language.

Many of the words in The Classroom Package are borrow words. The following is a list of some of them and the languages they came from. (Many dictionaries list word origins, too - in brackets after the definition.)

anaconda - Singhalese
anhinga - Native American (Tupi)
ani - Native American (Tupi)
armadillo - Spanish
balsa - Spanish
bamboo - Malay
barbasco - Spanish
boa - Latin
caiman - Native American (Carib)
canoe - Naive American (Carib)
capybara - Native American (Tupi)
cassava - Native American (Taino)
ceiba - Native American (Arawak)
corbina - Spanish
curare - Native American (Carib/Tupi)
heliconia - Spanish
hoatzin - Native American (Nahuatl)
jaguar - Native American (Guarani)
kapok - Malay
machete -Spanish
mahogany - Native American (Mayan)
ocelot - Native American (Nahuatl)
papaya - Native American (Carib)
peccary - Native American (Carib)
piranha - Native American (Tupi)
plantain - Spanish
(scarlet) macaw - Native American (Tupi)
toucan - Native American (Tupi)

Spanish and Quichua Words

 There are also several Spanish and Quichua words used in The Classroom Package.. Some of these, like chicha and minga are used by English-speaking people in Ecuador, so maybe some day they will become English words, too. (Note that Quichua, as it is called in Ecuador, is called Quechua in other South American countries. There are several Quichua dialects, including one of the northern Ecuadorian forest, which is the variety used in this book.)

 Spanish and Quichua vowel equivalents in English are as follows: a = ah; e = ay; i = ee; o = oh; u = ooh. The second to last syllable is stressed unless an accent mark indicates that the last syllable is stressed. H's (not after c) are not pronounced. C's (without h) in this list are all hard.

  Key:  Q = Quichua        S = Spanish        r.f. = rain forest

Achca pagarachu. - Thank you very much. (Q)
achiote - seeds of the annatto plant from which a bright red liquid is extracted for use as an all-purpose dye, a face paint or an insect repellent
Amazonas - Amazon (S)
atamuyu - a large, thick disk-like seed with a waxy interior, from a rain forest vine (Q)
balsa caja - a percussion instrument made of balsa, bamboo and a hard wood; makes a rattling sound (Q/S)
barco - literally, 'boat;' a children's game like hopscotch in which the stone is also kicked (S)
bienvenido - welcome (S)
bocachico - a delicious rain forest fish with puckered lips (S)
Causanguichu? - literally, 'Are you living?' Used like, 'How are you?' (Q)
chambira - a palm tree that produces a fiber used to make string and rope (Q)
chicha - a traditional fermented drink often made with cassava (Q/S)
chirango - a small stringed instrument sometimes made with an armadillo shell (Q/S)
chonta - a hard dark brown palm wood used to make lances, blowguns, etc. (S)
cocha - lake (Q)
Como estas? - How are you? (S)
ecuador - equator (S)
escuela - elementary school (S)
frutipan - an edible seed of a broad-leafed rain forest tree resembling a small nutty potato (S)
limon - lemon (S)
Limoncocha - Lemon Lake (Q/S)
minga - a gathering of all community members to work together on a project (Q)
muy bienvenido - welcome! (S)
pucahuasca - a thin, purplish rain forest vine from which a snakebite treating liquid is extracted (Q)
puma - jaguar (Q)
Que rico! - How delicious! (S)
rio - river (S)
runa shimi - literally, 'language of the people': the Quichua language (Q)
samashun - bye (Q)
sangre de dragon - literally, 'blood of the dragon;' a red liquid medicine from a rain forest tree used to treat many sicknesses (S)
shigra - a handbag made of chambira string (Q)
Shuj punja gama. - literally, 'Until another day;' used like 'See you later.' (Q)
Yanacocha - Black Lake (Q)
yanamuyu - a small shiny black seed used to make necklaces (Q)




Please choose another page below.
Amazon Rain Forest  
The Galapagos Islands

Latin America Classrom Travel Resources

© 2007 OneWorld Classrooms - All rights reserved.