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vocabulary
1000+ books

100 Words Encountered in

Classic Literature

Other Interests
domestic
as in:
domestic happiness
We share the domestic chores.
domestic = household (relating to home or family)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of domestic means:
relating to a home or family
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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anxiety
She suffers from more than the usual pre-test anxiety.
anxiety = nervousness or worry
Word Statistics
Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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elegant
as in:
an elegant gown
She was an elegant bride.
elegant = refined and tasteful in appearance, behavior or style
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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medieval
The story takes place during medieval times.
medieval = relating to or belonging to the Middle Ages
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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trifle with
as in:
a trifling matter
Don't waste my time with trifling matters.
trifling = things of little importance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trifling means:
something of small importance; or a small quantity
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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theme
as in:
theme of the novel
The party had a 1950's theme.
theme = an idea that is unifying or recurrent
DefinitionGenerally this sense of theme means:
a basic idea that underlies what is being said or done — especially in a literary or artistic work
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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irony
as in:
verbal irony
She was being ironic when she said she couldn't wait to see you again.
ironic = saying or writing one thing, while meaning the opposite or something else — usually as humor or sarcasm
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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acquire
Children acquire language at an amazing rate.
acquire = obtain (come into the possession of something)
Word Statistics
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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epic
I think Game of Thrones is the most epic fantasy written since The Rings Trilogy.
epic = an outstanding literary work that is long and heroic
DefinitionGenerally epic means:
something that is outstanding — especially a literary work that is long and heroic
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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disposition
as in:
a kind disposition
She has a cheerful disposition.
disposition = normal mood or personality
DefinitionGenerally this sense of disposition means:
someone's normal mood or personality
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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allegory
In Plato's allegory, the prisoners in the cave represent people living in ignorance.
allegory = a fictional story whose characters, items, or events are symbolic to express a deeper meaning
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Monsieur
Monsieur and Madame Curie studied radium.
Monsieur = Mr. (in French)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of Monsieur means:
French equivalent to:  "Mr." in English

or:

French equivalent to: "sir" in English (a polite way to address a male)
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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solemn
He took a solemn oath.
solemn = very serious
DefinitionGenerally solemn means:
very serious—and often dignified
Word Statistics
Library21 uses in 10 avg bks
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countenance
2 meanings
as in:
a pleasant countenance
She has a pleasant countenance.
countenance = facial expression; or face
DefinitionGenerally this sense of countenance means:
facial expression; or face; or composure
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
giving countenance
We will not countenance torture.
countenance = to tolerate or approve
DefinitionGenerally this sense of countenance means:
to tolerate, approve, or show favor or support
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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endeavor
I endeavored to get both sides to agree to a compromise.
endeavored = tried or attempted
DefinitionGenerally endeavor means:
to attempt; or a project or activity attempted
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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reconcile
as in:
reconciled herself to
After the accident, she had to reconcile herself to life without loving parents.
reconcile = to come to terms with
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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essential
The essential feature of the pen is that it writes so consistently.
essential = absolutely necessary; or of greatest importance
DefinitionGenerally essential means:
absolutely necessary; or of the greatest importance

or:

the defining or most important aspect of something
Word Statistics
Library19 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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render
as in:
rendered her unconscious
Her verbal attack rendered me speechless.
rendered = made (caused to become)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of render means:
to make or cause to become
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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prevail
as in:
she prevailed upon him
The lobbyist prevailed upon the president to sign the legislation.
prevailed = persuaded
DefinitionGenerally this sense of prevail means:
use persuasion — especially successfully
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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earnest
Both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate.
earnest = sincere or serious
DefinitionGenerally earnest means:
characterized by sincere belief

or:

intensely or excessively serious
Word Statistics
Library19 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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sultry
as in:
a sultry afternoon
It was a sultry afternoon. I could barely breath.
sultry = hot and humid
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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inquire
Students should contact our office to inquire about scholarship opportunities.
inquire = ask about or look into
DefinitionGenerally inquire means:
to ask about or look into something
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Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
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despair
Don't despair—help is on the way!
despair = give up hope
DefinitionGenerally despair means:
hopelessness
Word Statistics
Library26 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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dwell
2 meanings
as in:
Don't dwell on it.
Don't dwell on the past.
dwell = think or talk about something longer than seems appropriate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
to think, communicate, or let attention stay on (or return to) something for a prolonged period
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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as in:
It dwells in the forest.
The creature dwells in the forest.
dwells = lives in
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
make one's home in; or to live in; or to stay (in a place)
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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perish
...government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln  --  Gettysburg Address
perish = be destroyed or cease to exist
DefinitionGenerally perish means:
to die — especially in an unnatural way

or:

to be destroyed or cease to exist
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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cease
They signed a cease-fire agreement.
cease = to stop or discontinue (in this case, to stop firing weapons at each other)
DefinitionGenerally cease means:
to stop or discontinue
Word Statistics
Library24 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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wretch
Pity the poor wretch.
wretch = someone  you feel sorry for
DefinitionGenerally wretch means:
someone  you feel sorry for

or:

a person of bad character
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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accompany
The nurse accompanied the old woman everywhere.
accompanied = traveled along with
DefinitionGenerally accompany means:
to travel along with; or to be present with at the same time and/or location

or:

to perform with
Word Statistics
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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inclined
as in:
I'm inclined to
I'm inclined to believe him.
inclined = have a tendency; or an attitude or mood that favors something
DefinitionGenerally this sense of inclined means:
a tendency; in the mood; or an attitude that favors something
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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frontier
as in:
the frontier of Tibet
Indian soldiers and technicians assisted in staffing some of the checkposts on the frontier with Tibet.
frontier = an international boundary or a wilderness at the edge of a settled area
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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precipitate

adj as in: a precipitate decision
I had planned to ask her, but she made a precipitate departure.
precipitate = sudden (acting with great haste)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of precipitate means:
acting with great haste — often without adequate thought
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 2000
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oblige
3 meanings
as in:
I am obliged by law.
The law obliges doctors to report suspected child abuse.
obliges = requires
DefinitionGenerally this sense of oblige means:
require (obligate) to do something
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
I obliged her every request.
She asked for help and we obliged her.
obliged = granted a favor to someone
DefinitionGenerally this sense of oblige means:
grant a favor to someone
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
I'm much obliged for your kindness.
I am much obliged to you for your help.
obliged = grateful or indebted
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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indulgent
Indulgent parents risk spoiling their children.
indulgent = treating with extra kindness or leniency (in this case, not demanding enough of the children)
DefinitionGenerally indulgent means:
to treat with extra kindness or tolerance
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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contrary
5 meanings
as in:
a contrary idea
The facts point to a contrary conclusion.
contrary = different (perhaps opposite or mutually exclusive)
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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as in:
a contrary personality
She has a contrary personality.
contrary = disagreeable
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrary means:
disagreeable — typically in reference to someone's personality
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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as in:
contrary to
Contrary to popular belief, the largest pyramid is in Mexico—not Egypt.
contrary to = in opposition to
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
on the contrary
She was not smiling. On the contrary, she frowned.
on the contrary = In opposition to what was just said
DefinitionGenerally this sense of on the contrary means:
in opposition to what was just said
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
to the contrary
What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
to the contrary = with an opposite or different effect
DefinitionGenerally this sense of to the contrary means:
with an opposite or different effect; or something with an opposite or different effect
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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placid
a ribbon of sand between the angry sea and the placid bay
placid = pleasantly calm
DefinitionGenerally placid means:
calm and not easily excited
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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Shakespeare
As Shakespeare said, "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."
Shakespeare = English dramatist and poet frequently cited as the greatest writer in the English language (1564-1616)
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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sedate
as in:
he is sedate
a quiet sedate nature
sedate = calm and dignified
Word Statistics
Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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composure
After I regained my composure, I thanked her for telling me about the problem.
composure = calm (control of emotions)
DefinitionGenerally composure means:
calm and in control of emotions
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 1000
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endure
as in:
endured the pain
I endured insult and injury without complaint.
endured = suffered through (or to put up with something difficult or unpleasant)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of endure means:
to suffer through (or put up with something difficult or unpleasant)
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Library17 uses in 10 avg bks
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repentance
Prisoners who show repentance are more likely to be released on parole.
repentance = regret for having done wrong with a desire to be a better person in the future
DefinitionGenerally repentance means:
the feeling or expression of regret for having done something wrong with a firm decision to be a better person in the future
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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contempt
2 meanings
as in:
feels contempt towards him
Familiarity breeds contempt.
contempt = lack of respect
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contempt means:
lack of respect — often accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike or disgust
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
held in contempt of court
The judge held her in contempt.
contempt = the crime of willful disobedience to, or disrespect for, the authority of a court or legislative body
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contempt means:
the crime of willful disobedience to or disrespect for the authority of a court or legislative body
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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indifferent
About a third are in favor of the change, a third are opposed, and a third are indifferent.
indifferent = without interest
DefinitionGenerally indifferent means:
without interest — in various senses such as:
  • unconcerned
  • unsympathetic
  • impartial
  • not of good quality (which may imply average or poor quality depending upon context)
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Library18 uses in 10 avg bks
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divine
as in:
to forgive is divine
Her pies are divine.
divine = wonderful
DefinitionGenerally this sense of divine means:
wonderful; or god-like or coming from God
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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profound
as in:
profound sadness
Her apology was heartfelt—expressing profound sorrow and regret.
profound = of greatest intensity or emotional depth
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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indignant
She was indignant, but agreed to be searched when they accused her of shoplifting.
indignant = angered or annoyed at something unjust or wrong
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Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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comprehend
I don't think she comprehends how dangerous this has become.
comprehends = fully understands
DefinitionGenerally comprehend means:
to understand something — especially to understand it completely
Word Statistics
Library18 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 500
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compel
Does our DNA compel us to act as we do?
compel = force
DefinitionGenerally compel means:
to force someone to do something

or more rarely:

to convince someone to do something
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 2000
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summon
I was summoned to the principal's office.
summoned = called to come
DefinitionGenerally summon means:
to call forth
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Library27 uses in 10 avg bks
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mockery
I will not permit the defendant to make a mockery of this trial.
mockery = something that is ridiculous
DefinitionGenerally mockery means:
ridicule (to make fun of)

or:

something so inadequate it is ridiculous (silly)
Word Statistics
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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prejudice
The group works to eliminate racial prejudice.
prejudice = unreasonable and unfair belief or feeling
DefinitionGenerally prejudice means:
to have unreasonable belief — especially when unfair to members of a race, religion, or other group

or more generally:

to have (or create in others) an unreasonable belief that prevents objective (unbiased) consideration of an issue or situation
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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Walter Scott
Many consider Walter Scott to be the inventor of the historical novel.
Walter Scott = Scottish poet and author of historical novels such as Ivanhoe, and Rob Roy (1771-1832)
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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unrequited
It's a sad song about the heartbreak of unrequited love.
unrequited = unreturned
DefinitionGenerally unrequited means:
not returned in kind
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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mortal
as in:
mortal body
Don't expect perfection of a mere mortal.
mortal = human (especially merely human); or subject to death
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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utopia
We thought we could create a utopia, but we failed because we overestimated human nature.
utopia = an imaginary place considered to be perfect or ideal
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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metaphor
He was speaking metaphorically when he referred to being mugged by reality.
metaphorically = with a figure of speech in which a word is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity — as when Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage."
DefinitionGenerally metaphor means:
a figure of speech in which a similarity between two things is highlighted by using a word to refer to something that it does not literally denote — as when Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players." Shakespeare is not saying the world is really a stage and all people are actors, but there are similarities he wants us to recognize.
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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simile
When she said he was "as subtle as a sledgehammer," she was using ironic simile.
simile = a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds — usually formed with "like" or "as" — as in "She is as quiet as a mouse," or "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Paradise Lost
In Paradise Lost, Milton condemns reverence for physical objects—however well intentioned.
Paradise Lost = admired Milton epic poem of original sin (1667)
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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Cupid
Cupid is the Roman counterpart to the Greek Eros.
Cupid = Roman mythology:  god of love; a small, winged boy whose arrows make those struck fall in love
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Hercules
Heracles is the Greek mythological equivalent of the Roman Hercules.
Hercules = mythological Roman hero famous for his strength and for performing 12 immense labors to gain immortality
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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Ph.D
She is a research scientist who earned her Ph.D in physics.
Ph.D = a research doctorate usually based on at least 3 years graduate study and a dissertation; the highest degree awarded in universities in many fields of study
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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Romeo and Juliet
The movie is another remake of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet = Shakespeare's best known work; a tragedy of forbidden love (c. 1596)
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Aphrodite
In Roman mythology, Venus is the counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite.
Aphrodite = Greek mythology:  goddess of love and beauty
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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exeunt
Exeunt all except Hamlet.
exeunt = stage direction:  characters exit from stage
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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Zeus
Jupiter is the Roman counterpart to the Greek Zeus.
Zeus = Greek mythology:  the most supreme of the gods
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Medusa
The fashion company, Versace, uses the image of Medusa as a trademark.
Medusa = Greek mythology:  a woman with snakes for hair and the ability to turn people to stone if they looked at her
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Robinson Crusoe
Some describe Robinson Crusoe as the first novel of realistic fiction written in English.
Robinson Crusoe = Daniel Defoe's famous novel and the name of its main character — a shipwrecked English sailor who survives on a small tropical island (1719)
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Agamemnon
The 2004 film, Troy, depicted Agamemnon in an especially unsympathetic manner.
Agamemnon = Greek mythology:  the king who lead the Greeks against Troy in the Trojan War
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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existential
as in:
existential philosophy
It was a moment of existential angst when nothing made sense any more.
existential = not knowing what is important

(relating to existentialism; a philosophical movement that assumes each person is free to determine what is essential in his/her existence rather than that being determined by a god and/or authority figures)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of existential means:
relating to existentialism; a philosophical movement that assumes each person is free to determine what is essential in his/her existence rather than that being determined by a god and/or authority figures
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Pegasus
Pegasus is the mascot of TriStar Pictures.
Pegasus = Greek mythology:  the immortal winged horse; as the flying horse of the Muses it is a symbol of highflying imagination
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Minotaur
The Labyrinth was built to hold the Minotaur.
Minotaur = Greek mythology:  a creature that was part man and part bull
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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Pandora
Pandora's box is frequently referenced in Western culture.
Pandora = Greek mythology:  the first woman; she was presented with a container of humanity's evils and of hope
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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august
I am humbled to be chosen as a steward of this august institution.
august = majestic or greatly admired — especially due to high rank or age
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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King Arthur
It is another story about the boy who would become King Arthur.
King Arthur = mythical king of the Britons recognized as such when he was able to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone that had locked its blade; created the Knights of the Round Table
DefinitionGenerally King Arthur means:
mythical king of the Britons (English) recognized as such when he was able to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone that had locked its blade; created the Knights of the Round Table to protect his people
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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Helen of Troy
Helen of Troy is famously described as having "the face that launched a thousand ships."
Helen of Troy = Greek mythology:  the beautiful daughter of Zeus and Leda who was abducted by Paris; the Greek army sailed to Troy to get her back which resulted in the Trojan War
DefinitionGenerally Helen of Troy means:
Greek mythology:  "the face that launched a thousand ships" — "the most beautiful woman in the world" — the beautiful daughter of Zeus and Leda who was abducted by Paris; the Greek army sailed to Troy to get her back which resulted in the Trojan War
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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Dr. Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote under the pen name, Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss = pen name of the writer of classic children's books such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1904-1991)
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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abhor
She abhors violence.
abhors = hates or detests
DefinitionGenerally abhor means:
to hate or detest something
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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abide
3 meanings
as in:
abide by her decision
I can't abide her continual complaints.
abide = tolerate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to tolerate or put up with something
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
abide in the forest
She abides in the forest.
abides = lives
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to live in a place

or more rarely:  to live with someone or something
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
an abiding desire to
I have an abiding interest in the subject.
abiding = enduring
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abide means:
to remain or endure
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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abject
She grew up in abject poverty; though she didn't know it.
abject = extreme
DefinitionGenerally abject means:
extreme (in a negative sense such as misery, hopelessness, submissiveness, cruelty, or cowardice)
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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abrupt
2 meanings
as in:
an abrupt change
The bus came to an abrupt stop.
abrupt = sudden and unexpected
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Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
she is abrupt
She has an abrupt personality.
abrupt = rude or unfriendly because of using too few words or moving too quickly
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Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
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abscond
the accountant absconded with the cash from the safe
absconded = ran away
DefinitionGenerally abscond means:
to run away (usually taking something you shouldn't)
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absolve
The committee absolved her of any wrong doing.
absolved = found blameless
DefinitionGenerally absolve means:
to find someone blameless; or forgive; or relieve (of a requirement or obligation)
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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accomplice
Was she acting alone or did she have an accomplice?
accomplice = person who assisted
DefinitionGenerally accomplice means:
a person who joins with another in carrying out some plan — especially an unethical or illegal plan
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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accustomed
In the United States we're accustomed to forming our own opinion about the promises of advertisements and politicians.
accustomed = used to (have adapted to and have an expectation of)
DefinitionGenerally accustomed means:
psychologically or physically used to something
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Library18 uses in 10 avg bks
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acerbic
I appreciate her fine mind, but find her humor a bit acerbic.
acerbic = sour; or harsh
DefinitionGenerally acerbic means:
clever or funny, but also harsh or cruel
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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acquaint
You should acquaint yourself with the new computer program.
acquaint = cause to know better
DefinitionGenerally acquaint means:
to cause to know; or to cause to be familiar with
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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acquit
2 meanings
as in:
she was acquitted
It took the jury only 30 minutes to acquit her of the murder charge.
acquit = officially find "not guilty"
DefinitionGenerally this sense of acquit means:
officially find "not guilty" of criminal charges
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
she acquitted herself well
Although they did not win, the team acquitted itself well and we were proud to have them represent us.
acquitted = handled oneself in a specified way
DefinitionGenerally this sense of acquit means:
to handle oneself in a specified way — which is typically in a positive way
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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acrid
We were chased from the room by the acrid smoke.
acrid = harsh or caustic
DefinitionGenerally acrid means:
harsh or caustic — physically as when smoke from burning rubber might irritate the throat; or metaphorically as when someone says something that is especially sarcastic
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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