Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


The Hunger Games: A Glossary of Terms

Posted on

The release of the highly anticipated movie adaptation of The Hunger Games is upon us. And if you still haven’t read Suzanne Collins’s trilogy about Katniss Everdeen and her adventures in Panem, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about. For that matter, what’s Panem? What the heck is a tracker jacker? And who is President Snow? Well, we’ve got you covered with PEOPLE’s glossary of terms from The Hunger Games. Read on and the odds will definitely be in your favor when you sit down to watch the film, which comes out March 23.

ARENA: A vast outdoor arena rigged with Panem’s high-tech TV cameras as well as traps and challenges to test the tributes fighting each other to the death in the Hunger Games. An arena may contain anything from “a burning desert to a frozen wasteland.” After the Hunger Games, the arenas become popular tourist destinations for Capitol citizens.

BLOODBATH: The initial fighting at the onset of the Hunger Games, as tributes race to a cornucopia, which contains crucial supplies such as food, weapons and medicine. Typically, there are a lot of deaths during the bloodbath.

THE CAPITOL: A glamorous and protected city, where the ruling classes of Panem live. The Capitol’s citizens are interested in outlandish fashion, fabulous food and, of course, the Hunger Games.

CAREER: A volunteer tribute who has trained for his or her entire life to participate in the Hunger Games. Typically, these tributes (known as Careers) come from Districts 1, 2 and 4, which are more closely aligned with the Capitol.

CORNUCOPIA: A location inside every Hunger Games arena that may initially contain essential supplies such as food and water, medicine and weapons. It’s the location of the bloodbath and feasts.

DARK DAYS: The time in Panem’s history when the Districts rose up against the Capitol, resulting in the destruction of District 13. The Hunger Games are the yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated.

DISTRICTS: In addition to the Capitol, there are 12 districts in Panem, each with a different industry (such as coal mining or fishing), culture and standards of living. Districts 1, 2 and 4 are thought to be the wealthiest and the most closely aligned with the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen hails from the poorest district, the coal-mining area known as District 12. District 13 was destroyed by the Capitol during the Dark Days.

FEASTS: If food is scarce and there isn’t enough action to placate Capitol viewers during the Hunger Games, the Gamemakers may announce a feast to lure the tributes to the Cornucopia to fight.

GAMEMAKERS: These Capitol citizens are responsible for producing the most exciting and entertaining Hunger Games possible – and they unleash untold havoc on the contestants inside the arena with just a push of a button.

HUNGER GAMES: Both a punishment for the Dark Days and a celebrated obsession in the Capitol, each of the 12 districts must provide one girl and one boy, known as tributes, to participate in an annual televised battle to the death in a large outdoor arena. The winner (the last tribute alive) will return to their district to live a life of fame and fortune. The citizens of the winner’s district will also receive prizes, consisting mostly of food and supplies, for a year. • JABBERJAY: Male birds with the ability to record and repeat entire conversations that were created by the Capitol to spy on its enemies during the Dark Days.

MENTOR: Previous winners of the Hunger Games are lifelong mentors to the tributes from their district each year.

MOCKINGJAY: When male jabberjays mated with female mockingbirds they produced mockingjays. These black-and-white birds don’t have the ability to record conversations but they can mimic human sounds and are able to memorize songs. Katniss wears a mockingjay pin inside the arena as her tribute token.

MUTTATION: Animals genetically altered and manipulated by the Capitol to be used as weapons. Examples include jabberjays and tracker jackers.

PANEM: “A shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts,” Collins writes of her books’ setting. Panem is located in what used to be known as North America after a series of disasters, including droughts, storms, fires and encroaching seas.

PREP TEAM: Each tribute is assigned a team of stylists to help them look their best (according to Capitol standards) at various public appearances related to the Hunger Games. The goal: to lure sponsors to send the tributes gifts inside the arena.

PRESIDENT SNOW: The longtime totalitarian leader of Panem.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the reaping
REAPING: Each year before the Hunger Games, the citizens of each district gather to pick their tributes in an event known as the reaping. All children, beginning at age 12, are entered into a random drawing. Each year that goes by that a child is not picked, their name is entered an additional time until age 18. After drawing the name of one girl and one boy, eligible children can volunteer to take a spot as tribute. The reaping airs live in the Capitol, where the citizens are exempt from the reaping.

THE SEAM: The most impoverished area of District 12 and Katniss’s home. It borders the uninhabited(and off-limit) woods, where she and Gale hunt for much-needed food.

SPONSOR: During the Hunger Games, a tribute’s mentor is responsible for procuring needed – and very expensive – items with donations from supporters known as sponsors. A sponsor can be a wealthy Capitol citizen who is impressed with a tribute’s performance or members of the community of his or her district, pooling their resources.

TESSERA: Needy district kids can apply for extra food for themselves and/or family members in exchange for their names being added additional times at the upcoming reaping.

TOKEN: Each tribute is allowed to bring something to the Hunger Games that represents their District and reminds them of home. Katniss’s token is the mockingjay pin.

TRACKER JACKER: Muttations that resemble wasps, whose painful stings induce intensely frightening hallucinations.

TRIBUTE: A participant, aged 12 to 18, of the Hunger Games.