A Sound of Thunder

a sound of thunderThis story by Ray Bradbury is one of the most popular Science Fiction stories of all time. What is the most dangerous thing about time travel in the distant past? According to this story, it is not being eaten by a dinosaur but doing some small thing that may change the future. In the story five men travel back in time to kill a T-Rex. One of them s when he sees the huge monster and steps off a specially prepared path. Because of this, they return to a very different world. The last thing the man hears is a sound of thunder.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Pre-Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

There are also three words that are in our word list but have a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used:

  • In the first line of the story we are told that the sign on the office wall seemed to to be moving under a thin film of warm water. Here the word means a thin on or over the surface of something. The word is used with its more common meaning later in the story in the “Time was a film run backward.”
  • The man in the office talks about “Taking you back sixty million years to shoot the biggest game in all of Time.” In this case the word means animals that are hunted.
  • When Eckels first sees the dinosaur he cries out, “I’ve met my match.” The word here means someone or something that is equal to or as good as another person or thing.

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(n: panic pl panics) A state or feeling of great fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally. 3000

ancient(adj: ancient) 1. Of great age; very old. 2. Of, coming from, or belonging to a time that was long ago in the past. 3000

bacteria(n: bacterium pl bacteria) Any one of a group of very small living things not able to be seen except under a microscope, some of which are germs and cause disease. 5000

bone(n: bone pl bones) The hard substance forming the skeleton of man, animals etc. 2000

branch(n: branch pl branches) An arm-like part of a tree that grows out from the central part. 2000

breath(n: breath pl breaths) The air that you take into your lungs and send out from your lungs. His breath smells like garlic. 3000
(idiom: hold your breath) To stop breathing for a short time, such as when you dive into water.
(idiom: take a deep breath) To take a lot of air into your lungs.

breathe(v: breathe, breathes, breathed, breathing) To move air into and out of your lungs; to inhale and exhale. He was breathing hard from running.
(phrasal verb: breathe deeply) To take a lot of air into your lungs. 3000

bullet(n: bullet pl bullets) A small piece of metal or another material that is shot out of a gun. 4000

butterfly(n: butterfly pl butterflies) An insect that has a long thin body and brightly colored wings and flies mostly during the day. 4000

caveman(n: caveman pl cavemen) A person who was part of a group of people who lived in a cave in prehistoric times. 8000

crash(v: crash, crashes, crashed, crashing) 1. To damage something (such as a car) by causing it to hit something. She crashed the car into a tree, but no one was hurt. 2. To make a loud noise by falling, hitting something, etc. The glass crashed to the floor. 3000

dinosaur(n: dinosaur pl dinosaurs) One of many reptiles that lived on Earth millions of years ago. 3000

election(n: election pl elections) The act or process of choosing someone for a public office by voting. 1000

helmet(n: helmet pl helmets) A hard hat that is worn to protect your head. Soldiers wear helmets when fighting. 4000

(adj: incorporated or Inc.) Formed into a legal company, often used in the names of companies. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated; Merriam-Webster, Inc. 3000

joke(n: joke pl jokes) Something said or done to cause laughter. She meant it as a joke, but some people took her seriously. I heard a funny joke yesterday. 2000

mud(n: mud, noncount) Soft, wet dirt. His shoes were covered with mud. 3000

narrow(adj: narrow, narrower, narrowest) Long and not wide; small from one side to the other side. The bridge is too narrow for large vehicles to cross. 2000

nightmare(n: nightmare pl nightmares) 1. A dream that frightens a sleeping person; a very bad dream. 2. A very bad or frightening experience or situation. 3000

oxygen(n: oxygen, noncount) A chemical that is found in the air, that has no color, taste, or smell, and that is necessary for life. He died from lack of oxygen. 4000

reptile(n: reptile pl reptiles) An animal [such as a snake, lizard, turtle, or alligator] that has cold blood, lays eggs, and has a body covered with scales or hard parts.
(adj: reptilian) Like a reptile. The bird was reptilian in appearance. 12000

rifle(n: rifle pl rifles) A gun that has a long barrel and that is held against your shoulder when you shoot it. 5000

roar(v: roar, roars, roared, roaring) 1. To say loudly or shout. 2. To make the loud sound of a wild animal [such as a lion]. 3. To make a loud deep sound. The cannons roared. 4. To make a loud deep sound while moving. He roared past on his motorbike. 6000

safari(n: safari pl safaris) 1. An overland journey to see or hunt animals. He went on a safari in Africa last year. 2. A group of hunters on safari. 8000

scream(v: scream, screams, screamed, screaming) 1. To suddenly cry out in a loud and high voice because of fear, pain, surprise, etc. 2. To say something in a loud and high voice because you are angry, afraid, etc. 3000

shake(v: shake, shakes, shook, shaken, shaking) To move back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements. 2000

shiver(v: shiver, shivers, shivered, shivering) To move back and forth or from side to side slightly because you are cold, afraid, etc. 5000

silence(n: silence, noncount) 1. A period of time when there is no sound. The teacher asked for silence in the room. I find it hard to sleep unless there is complete silence.
(adj: silent) Used to describe someone or something that is not making noise.
(adv: silently) In a silent way. 3000

thunder(n: thunder, noncount) The loud, deep rumbling sound that follows a flash of lightning during a storm. (ฟ้าร้อง)
(v: thunder, thunders, thundered, thundering) To make a very loud, deep noise. (ส่งเสียงดังคล้ายเสียงฟ้าร้อง) 3000

tight(adj: tight, tighter, tightest) 1. Fitting very or too closely; [of clothes] fitting very close to your body. These shoes are too tight. (คับแน่น) 2. Flat or firm from being pulled or stretched; not loose. Pull the ribbon tight and make a bow. (ผูกแน่น) 3. Fastened, attached, or held in a position that is not easy to move. The lid is too tight. I can't open it. (แน่นหนา) 2000
(adv: tightly) In a tight way. The shirt fits too tightly around the arms. Hold on tightly to the railing. (แน่น)

whisper(n: whisper pl whispers) A very quiet sound, especially something said. (การกระซิบ; การส่งเสียงเบา ๆ)
(v: whisper, whispers, whispered, whispering) To speak or say something very softly. (กระซิบ) 5000

yard(n: yard pl yards) 1. The area of ground around a house, usually covered with grass or plants. (สนาม) 2. An area of enclosed (fenced) ground used for a special purpose. (ลานบ้าน) 3. An old British unit of length equal to three feet or 0.9144 meters. (หลา) 2000

film(n: film pl films) 1. A special material that is used for taking photographs or recording movies. 2. A story, play etc shown as a motion picture in a cinema, on television etc.; a movie. 3. A thin layer on or over the surface of something. A film of ice/dust. 1000

layer(n: layer pl layers) A single thickness of a material that lies over or under another. 3000

(n: metaphor pl metaphors) A comparison between two unlike things that share similar qualities. A word or phrase for one is used to refer to the other in order to show or suggest that they are similar. The comparison is indirect in that it does not use the words "like" or "as". He was drowning in paperwork. He's a tiger when he's angry. 7000

game(n: game pl games) A physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure. A card game. Party games.
(n: game, noncount) Animals that are hunted. Wild game. 1000

match(n: match pl matches) 1. A short thin piece of wood with a special tip that produces fire when it is rubbed against something else. He lit a match. 2. Someone or something that is equal to or as good as another person or thing. She has finally met her match at arguing. 3. A contest between two or more players or teams. A soccer match. 1000

This series of half-hour radio plays was produced by Brigham Young University for the U.S. National Public Radio Network. Ray Bradbury was very excited about it and personally provided an introduction to each episode. The series is highly regarded for its original sound effects and musical scores. This is episode 8. To download the mp3, click here.

A 24 minute film from the ‘Ray Bradbury Theater’ American TV series, with personal introduction by Ray Bradbury. This is episode 6 of Season 3. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.

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