The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars Glossary


Preternatural means beyond what is normal or natural.


A cannula is a tube that can be inserted into the body, often for the delivery or removal of fluid. In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel uses it to get air from tanks she carts alongside her.


Myriad means countless or extremely great in number.


To ascertain is to find something out for certain.


A hamartia is a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine.


Radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium. In the sense it is used in The Fault in Our Stars, radiation therapy refers to a cancer treatment using radiation to mitigate or kill malignant cells.


Chemotherapy is a category of cancer treatment that uses chemical substances, especially one or more anti-cancer drugs ('chemotherapeutic agents').


A tumor is a swelling of a part of the body, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant. Cancer itself is a malignant tumor in a part of the body due to abnormal cell growth.


When tumor cells metastasize, the new tumor is called a secondary or metastatic tumor (colloquially called "mets"). Its cells are similar to those in the original tumor; meaning, for example, that if breast cancer metastasizes to the lungs, the secondary tumor is made up of abnormal breast cells, not of abnormal lung cells.


Hoosier is a name for a resident of the U.S. state of Indiana.


Toroidal means torus-shaped or toroid-shaped, which resembles a ring or donut. Augustus uses this word to describe a basketball hoop.


In philosophy, this term is concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism. The term "existential crisis" often concerns a person questioning the meaning or purpose of life.


Fraught means filled with or destined to result in something undesirable.


Dysmorphia, usually used in reference to Body Dysmorphic Disorder, is a mental disorder of obsessive preoccupation with a perceived defect in one's own appearance, sometimes to the extent of imagining or mis-perceiving this deficit entirely.


Bereft means deprived of or lacking something. It is often used to describe someone after the death of a loved one.

PET scan

PET is an acronym for positron emission tomography. A PET scan uses radioactive substance called a tracer to image the body's organs and tissues and look for disease.


A sobriquet is a nickname.


Bacchanalia is drunken revelry, named after the Roman festival devoted to the god Bacchus ('Dionysus' in Greek).


Sisyphus is a character in Greek mythology who was punished for wrongdoing by having to repeatedly roll a boulder up a steep hill, only to watch it roll back down each time.


TMJ is an initialism for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a syndrome of pain and compromised movement of the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles.


NEC, as stated in the book, stands for 'no evidence of cancer'.


A misnomer is a wrong or inaccurate name or designation. In the novel, Hazel says that a street named Grandview is a misnomer because there isn't much of a nice view from there.


Topography is the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area.


GED, which stands for 'General Educational Development', is a group of four subject tests which, when passed, certify that the test taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills. The test is often taken by a youth or adult who was for some reason unable to finish high school but wants to apply to college or a job.


Soliloquy an act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or without regard to any listeners, especially by a character in a play.


A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun or any ordinary star is expected to emit over its entire life span.


Intracranial means inside the head or skull.


A coterie is a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially ones that exclude other people.


A sarcophagus is a stone coffin, typically adorned with a sculpture or inscription, associated with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Rome, and Greece.


Edema is a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body.


A martyr is a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

Parmenides and Zeno

Parmenides of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem, "On Nature."

Zeno of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Magna Graecia and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides.


Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness to improve both the patient and the family’s quality of life, rather than focusing on a cure.

"Omnis cellula e cellula"

As explained in the book, 'omnis cellula e cellula' means 'all cells come from cells'.


Analogous to the time markers BCE and AD, Hazel creates the term "AG" to mean "after Gus."


Indefatigable means persisting tirelessly (i.e. without fatigue).