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vocabulary
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The Scarlet Letter
Vocabulary

Extra Credit Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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abstruse
1 use
There are scholars among them, who had spent more years in acquiring abstruse lore, connected with the divine profession, than Mr. Dimmesdale had lived; and who might well, therefore, be more profoundly versed in such solid and valuable attainments than their youthful brother.
abstruse = difficult to understand
DefinitionGenerally abstruse means:
difficult to understand; or not known by the great majority of people
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 11
Web Links
acute
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
acute vision
But she said it with a hesitation that did not escape the acuteness of the child.
acuteness = intelligence (sharpness or high perceptiveness)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of acute means:
sharp (highly perceptive in some area or mentally sharp)

(often with a connotation that resulting awareness is painful)
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
alacrity
1 use
...was their fuss about little matters, and marvellous, sometimes, the obtuseness that allowed greater ones to slip between their fingers Whenever such a mischance occurred—when a waggon-load of valuable merchandise had been smuggled ashore, at noonday, perhaps, and directly beneath their unsuspicious noses—nothing could exceed the vigilance and alacrity with which they proceeded to lock, and double-lock, and secure with tape and sealing-wax, all the avenues of the delinquent vessel.
alacrity = quickness; and/or cheerful eagerness
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
benevolent
4 uses
...the genial benevolence of his private life had won him warmer affection than...
benevolence = kindness
DefinitionGenerally benevolent means:
kind, generous, or charitable
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
capricious
5 uses
She took her mother's hand in both her own, and gazed into her eyes with an earnestness that was seldom seen in her wild and capricious character.
capricious = impulsive and unpredictable
DefinitionGenerally capricious means:
impulsive or unpredictable or tending to make sudden changes — especially impulsive behavior
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
countenance
12 uses
1  —10 uses as in:
a pleasant countenance
Old Roger Chillingworth knelt down beside him, with a blank, dull countenance, out of which the life seemed to have departed.
countenance = facial expression
DefinitionGenerally this sense of countenance means:
facial expression; or face; or composure
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
?  —2 uses
exact meaning not specified
or not quizzed
decorum
5 uses
In reply to her mother's command and entreaty that she would behave more decorously,
decorously = with manners and conduct considered to be proper and in good taste
DefinitionGenerally decorum means:
manners and conduct considered to be proper and in good taste
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
despondent
5 uses
It was the last expression of the despondency of a broken spirit.
despondency = depression
DefinitionGenerally despondent means:
emotionally depressed — especially a feeling of grief and hopelessness after a loss
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
diversity
2 uses
With many variations, suggested by the nature of his building materials, diversity of climate, and a different mode of social life, Governor Bellingham had planned his new habitation after the residences of gentlemen of fair estate in his native land.
diversity = difference (variety)
DefinitionGenerally diversity means:
the condition of variety — especially in reference to members of a population group who are of different races or cultures
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
duplicity
1 use
In order to free his mind from this indistinctness and duplicity of impression, which vexed it with a strange disquietude, he recalled and more thoroughly defined the plans which Hester and himself had sketched for their departure.
duplicity = deception — such as lying
DefinitionGenerally duplicity means:
deception (lying to or misleading others) — usually over an extended period
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
eminent
13 uses
Thus it was with the men of rank, on whom their eminent position imposed the guardianship of the public morals.
eminent = standing above others in reputation
DefinitionGenerally eminent means:
standing above others in attainment or reputation
Word Statistics
Book13 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
1st useChapter 22
Web Links
esoteric
1 use
The merchants valued him not less than we, his esoteric friends.
esoteric = with knowledge understandable by only an enlightened inner circle
DefinitionGenerally esoteric means:
confined to and understandable by only a few — often an enlightened inner circle
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
interloper
1 use
Bred up from boyhood in the Custom-House, it was his proper field of activity; and the many intricacies of business, so harassing to the interloper, presented themselves before him with the regularity of a perfectly comprehended system.
interloper = someone or something that, without invitation, inserts itself
DefinitionGenerally interloper means:
someone or something that, without invitation, inserts itself — such as an uninvited guest at a party or a species that invades non-native territory
Word Statistics
Book1 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
penitent
7 uses
Is there no reality in the penitence thus sealed and witnessed by good works?
penitence = feeling or expressing sorrow for having done wrong
DefinitionGenerally penitent means:
feeling or expressing sorrow for having done wrong; or a person who does such
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
Puritans
24 uses
...these stern and black-browed Puritans would have thought it quite a sufficient retribution for his sins that...
Puritans = strict church members
DefinitionGenerally Puritans means:
English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries thought there were too many rituals in worship and who stressed hard work above pleasure
Word Statistics
Book24 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 21
Web Links
sagacious
4 uses
native sagacity, and a nameless something more,—let us call it intuition;
sagacity = wisdom
DefinitionGenerally sagacious means:
wise — especially through long experience and thoughtfulness
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
subsequent
8 uses
Such scenes had once appeared not otherwise than happy, but now, as viewed through the dismal medium of her subsequent life, they classed themselves among her ugliest remembrances.
subsequent = following
DefinitionGenerally subsequent means:
following something else
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
1st useIntr.
Web Links
tremulous
13 uses
...with every successive Sabbath, his cheek was paler and thinner, and his voice more tremulous than before...
tremulous = quivering (shaky)
DefinitionGenerally tremulous means:
quivering (shaky) — usually from weakness or fear — especially of the voice
Word Statistics
Book13 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
zeal
7 uses
the religious zeal that brought other emigrants across the Atlantic.
zeal = enthusiasm
DefinitionGenerally zeal means:
active interest and enthusiasm
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
zenith
5 uses
An unvaried pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon.
zenith = the highest point

(editor's note:  The horizon is what appears to be the lowest part of the sky — where the eye sees the sky meet the earth in the distance.)
DefinitionGenerally zenith means:
the highest point - physically or as a metaphor
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
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