WORDS FROM BOOKS – BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along!

In 2011, Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale University and a mother of two daughters, published a memoir entitled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It quickly became a sensation – and a lightning rod for controversy. To some, it seemed to advocate a philosophy of raising children common among Chinese parents that was overly harsh. (Strict disciplinarian mothers, particularly those of East Asian descent, are sometimes termed “tiger mothers,” in large part because of this book’s influence.) Others argued that children would actually benefit from stricter upbringing, and that lax parenting in Western society had resulted in less productive children. The book spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and ignited a fervent nationwide discussion on how best to raise one’s children.

Being a law professor, Chua holds a fantastic command of the English language. In her memoir, she often uses words above and beyond what an average American might use, even in writing. Moreover, much of her book dwells on anecdotes relating to practicing piano and the violin. Hence, the book contains many music terms – a perennial staple in spelling bee word lists.

The following is a compendium of great words I’ve found in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The list may not be exhaustive, but I’ve tried to round up the more difficult and appropriate words from Amy Chua’s book. My hope is that this list will help expose you to more words…and possibly inspire you to read her book!


Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Word List A

Pronunciations for word list. Play and pause as you would like.
abaloneaccelerandoachievementamiablyappassionato
approximatelyaptitudearchitectbastionbattalion
berceuseboisterousbrinkmanshipcallous (adj.)caviar
champagnecharioteerchauffeurchautauquaclaustrophobic
commitmentcommitteecomplement (to enhance something)comradeconcierge
conciliatorycotillioncutthroatdecadentdecibel
definitelydemocratizationdeterioratediscriminatingdisintegrated
dourdubiousecstaticeffervescentegregiously
empiricalespionageevasivelyexasperationexcoriation
exhilarationexquisitelyextortionextracurricularextraordinarily

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Word List B

Pronunciations for word list. Play and pause as you would like.
extricateFilipinofortississimofragilityfrugal
furtivegesticulategrammarheroine (a female hero)humoresque
hypocriticalidyllicimaginativeimmovableimperturbable
improvisationinconsonantindebtedindependentindignantly
individualityindulgentinextricablyingratiateinstability
insubordinationintellectualinterrogatingintrinsicallykindergarten
legatoleukemialitigationmagisterialmagnanimously
mausoleummedievalmellifluousmimickingminiature
minutiaemourning (grieving)neutrophilobliviousomitted
opprobriumostracizedpanickingparentalpariah

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Word List C

Pronunciations for word list. Play and pause as you would like.
pathospennilessphlebotomyphysicistplatitude
polonaiseprecariouspreemptedprevailedprivatization
privilegeproblematicallyprodigyProtestantismprotuberant
provenanceprovocativepsychoticallyquantifiablerabidly
receptaclerefurbishingrehearsalrepetitiousrhapsody
rote (by memory)Sabbathschemingscreechingsimultaneous
snorkelingsonoroussundae (a treat made with ice cream)supersedetenacious
tenettenterhookstoccatatoccatinatrafficker
tragicomictritonetriumphalunbelievablyunerringly
unmentionableUzbekvacuumedvehementlyvicarious
virtuousvulgaritywieldwistfullyXerox

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar