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vocabulary
1000+ books

The Top 100 Study Words for

Standardized Tests like the SAT® & ACT®

Ordered by Importance of Study
Based on the SAT® as redesigned for tests taken after January of 2016
Other Interests
indicate
These maps are drawn with north to the top unless otherwise indicated.
indicated = pointed out (shown)
DefinitionGenerally indicate means:
to show (point out, demonstrate, express, or suggest)
Word Statistics
Library36 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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illustrate
2 meanings
as in:
as illustrated by this example
Pictures of flooding help to illustrate the problem of global warming.
illustrate = make clear
DefinitionGenerally this sense of illustrate means:
to help make clear — typically by example
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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as in:
an illustrated children's book
I write and illustrate children's books.
illustrate = draw pictures to accompany
DefinitionGenerally this sense of illustrate means:
to draw pictures (or provide photographs) to accompany a book or other writing
Word Statistics
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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imply
She wouldn't make a direct statement, but she implied that she supported our position.
implied = hinted or suggested
DefinitionGenerally imply means:
to suggest or say indirectly — possibly as a logical consequence
Word Statistics
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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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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relevant
It is easier to learn things that seem relevant to your life.
relevant = related in a meaningful way to the issue in question
DefinitionGenerally relevant means:
relating in a meaningful way to the issue in question
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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revise
How can you revise that paragraph to improve the expression of ideas?
revise = improve (change)
DefinitionGenerally revise means:
to change (and hopefully improve) — most frequently to improve a written document, but it can be any intentional change such as a change in an estimated amount, a plan, or a series of procedures
Word Statistics
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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adapt
Ideas contained in passages for this test, some of which are excerpted or adapted from published material, do not necessarily represent the opinions of the College Board.
adapted = changed (to fit this situation)
DefinitionGenerally adapt means:
change to fit a different situation; or make suitable
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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tradition
My family's Thanksgiving tradition is to gather together and eat turkey.
tradition = a long-established practice
DefinitionGenerally tradition means:
a long-established or previously long-established practice or belief

and/or:

one or more practices, beliefs, or stories passed down through generations within a specific culture or group
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Library31 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 10
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contrast
3 meanings
as in:
contrast their writing styles
Contrast winter in Panama with winter in Alaska.
contrast = point to differences between; or compare to show differences
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
there is a contrast
The contrast in their leadership styles is striking. Olivia motivated people with fear. Isabella motivated them with praise.
contrast = notable difference
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrast means:
a difference — especially a notable difference; or the side-x-side arrangement of things that draws attention to an unmissable difference
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
it is a contrast
College is quite a contrast to high school.
contrast = something notably different
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrast means:
something noticeably different (compared to something else or to other things)
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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establish
3 meanings
as in:
establish a positive tone.
Which word choice best maintains the tone established in the first paragraph?
established = created
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
create or start
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
establish that there is a need
The passage is primarily about establishing the relationship between the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global temperature.
establishing = showing or demonstrating
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
show or determine (cause to be recognized or figure out)
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
long established procedures
She got a job with an established firm.
established = long-accepted or long-successful
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
cause long-term acceptance, reputation, or success
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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consequence
as in:
a direct consequence of
Your decision will have three major consequences.
consequences = results
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
a result of something (usually an undesired side effect)
Word Statistics
Library21 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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hypothesis
2 meanings
as in:
a study to test her hypothesis
The study will test the hypothesis that a good marriage is more important than a higher income when measuring happiness.
hypothesis = a seemingly reasonable, but unproven, idea based upon known facts
DefinitionGenerally this sense of hypothesis means:
a seemingly reasonable, but unproven, idea based upon known facts — often an idea to be tested
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
Let's assume hypothetically that
For the purpose of discussion, let's accept that the hypothesis that she is guilty is true. What would we have expected her to do after the incident?
hypothesis = something that may not be true, but that is temporarily treated as true to advance a discussion or to further investigation
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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passage
Each passage below is followed by a number of questions.
passage = a short part of a longer written work
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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direct
6 meanings
as in:
walked directly to work
I walked directly to work.
directly = without interruption in the straightest or quickest possible manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
proceeding without interruption in the straightest or quickest possible manner
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Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
directly above; or buy direct from
This flower does best in direct sunlight.
direct = without intervention from anything (in this case, not sun that is partially blocked or reflected)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straight (exactly where stated; or without anything in between)
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Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
was direct in my instructions
I left them with direct instructions.
direct = straightforward
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straightforward (clear and explicit — perhaps also indicating openness and honesty)
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Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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as in:
directed her question to
The sprinkler head needs to be fixed so it directs water away from the house.
directs = aims
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
aim or focus
Word Statistics
Library21 uses in 10 avg bks
SATtop 100
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as in:
directed the jury to...
On the SAT test, some questions direct you to look at an underlined or numbered portion of a passage.
direct = instruct
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
give instructions or commands (directions that must be followed)
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Library17 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
directed the movie
She directed the move.
directed = was in charge
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
supervise or administer (often while giving directions or orders)
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Library17 uses in 10 avg bks
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demonstrate
2 meanings
as in:
It demonstrates my point.
The salesperson demonstrated features of both phones so I could compare them.
demonstrated = showed
DefinitionGenerally this sense of demonstrate means:
to show
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Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
demonstrate to protest
The students demonstrated against hate speech.
demonstrated = joined with others in a public protest
DefinitionGenerally this sense of demonstrate means:
a public display supporting a cause — usually joining with others in a political protest
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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evaluate
I'm evaluating colleges and deciding which I want to apply to.
evaluating = thinking carefully and making a judgement about
DefinitionGenerally evaluate means:
to think carefully and make a judgement about something
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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interpret
3 meanings
as in:
interpret Spanish to English
Can she interpret Spanish to English for us?
interpret = translate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of interpret means:
to translate words into spoken words of another language

(This word is used in place of translate when the translation is done real-time, or on-the-fly, or immediately as needed.)
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
her interpretation of the data
I don't know how to interpret her smile.
interpret = understand (In this case: Why did she smile? What does it mean?)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of interpret means:
to understand or explain something in a particular way — often the meaning or significance of something
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
her musical interpretation
Rather than record the songs herself, she likes to write them and let other musicians interpret them.
interpret = expresses personal artistic ideas or feelings while performing someone else's work
DefinitionGenerally this sense of interpret means:
express personal artistic ideas or feelings while performing (or performing to) someone else's work
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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contradict
Does the sentence contradict the main claim of the essay?
contradict = disagree with
DefinitionGenerally contradict means:
disagree as in:
  • to say something is not true
  • to say something else is true when both can't be true
  • to be in conflict with
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Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
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acknowledge
She acknowledged that she might have forgotten.
acknowledged = admitted
DefinitionGenerally acknowledge means:
express recognition of someone or something; or admit something
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Library22 uses in 10 avg bks
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convention
3 meanings
as in:
to convene
She is at the convention in Las Vegas.
convention = large conference or meeting
DefinitionGenerally this sense of convention means:
a large conference or meeting
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
conventional behavior
It was once conventional wisdom that the earth was flat.
conventional = normal or typical
DefinitionGenerally this sense of convention means:
something regarded as normal or typical
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
The Geneva Convention
The European Convention on Human Rights binds about 50 European countries.
convention = a written international agreement
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correspond
as in:
corresponding time period
Eskimos have many words that correspond to the English word snow. For example, there are different words for "snow on the ground", "fresh snow on the ground", "soft snow on the ground", "a crust of snow on the ground" and so forth.
correspond = are equivalent
DefinitionGenerally this sense of correspond means:
connect or fit together by being equivalent, proportionate, or matched

(Two things are equivalent if they have the same or very similar value, purpose, or result.)
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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nevertheless
The class was hard. Nevertheless, it was my favorite.
nevertheless = in spite of that (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally nevertheless means:
in spite of that (Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include words and phrases such as nonetheless, all the same, still,  and however.)
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Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
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context
She said she was quoted out of context and that anyone who read her full speech would know it.
context = in a misleading manner (because the quote left out additional words that changed the meaning of what was quoted)
DefinitionGenerally context means:
the setting or situation in which something occurs
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infer
Which of the following facts can you infer from the first paragraph?
infer = figure out or guess by reasoning
DefinitionGenerally infer means:
to figure out or guess by reasoning
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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convey
3 meanings
as in:
convey her thoughts
Please convey my gratitude for her hospitality.
convey = communicate or express
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as in:
convey title to the property
My parents came here from Mexico in 1975. They worked very hard to convey their ethics and values to my sister and me.
convey = to give or transfer — especially legal title
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as in:
convey her safely to
I was ordered to convey the princess to London.
convey = transport
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alternative
as in:
an alternative plan
Let's think of at least three alternatives before we decide what to do.
alternatives = possibilities
DefinitionGenerally this sense of alternative means:
something available as another possibility
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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narrator
The narrator in the play, Our Town talks to characters in the play as well as to the audience.
narrator = an actor in a play, movie, or other performance who helps to tell the story by talking directly to the audience (breaking the imaginary barrier between the performers and the audience)
DefinitionGenerally narrator means:
someone who tells a story—especially the main voice in a documentary, or a character who talks directly to the audience in a movie, play or other performance
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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focus
5 meanings
as in:
Turn your focus to question #2.
I find that studying in the library helps me to focus.
focus = concentrate
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
concentrate or look at
Word Statistics
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
The focus of our study is...
Since we're running out of time, let's narrow our focus to just what needs to be done tomorrow.
focus = area where attention is concentrated
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
where attention is concentrated
Word Statistics
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
bring into focus; or out of focus
The bridge collapse brought aging infrastructure into focus as a political issue.
focus = into view (as an area of attention)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
a state where something has come into view or can be seen clearly

(Typically this is said of the appearance of an image or picture, but it can also be said of an issue or something else that get's attention; or of an understanding that become clear.)
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
The camera focuses automatically
I have to give the camera a little while to focus before I shoot the picture.
focus = adjust its lens to get a clear picture
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
to adjust a lens to make an image clear
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Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
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technical usage
The satellite dish focuses the signal into a relatively narrow beam.
focuses = concentrates
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
technical usage typically involves some sense of center or concentration such as:

  • physics — a point of convergence such as the point where light rays meet

  • geometry — a fixed reference point (as of a parabola)

  • geology — the point of origin of an earthquake



See a comprehensive dictionary for other less common meanings.
Word Statistics
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
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attribute
2 meanings
as in:
It is an attribute of...
She described his physical attributes.
attributes = characteristics (of something or someone)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of attribute means:
a characteristic (of something or someone)
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
I attribute it to...
She attributed this quotation to Shakespeare.
attributed = credited (a source for something)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of attribute means:
to credit (a source for something) — such as:
  • to say that something happened because of someone or something else (give credit or blame)
  • to say that an idea or quotation came from a specified source
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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negative
5 meanings
as in:
had a negative effect
Higher interest rates negatively affected home sales.
negatively = in a bad or harmful manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
bad or harmful
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as in:
negative feedback from customers
The responses to my plan were negative.
negative = indicated criticism or disagreement
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
to express criticism or disagreement, or (especially when talking over a radio or in a military setting) to say "no"
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as in:
a negative attitude
Don't be so negative. We'll find a way to make this work.
negative = pessimistic
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
pessimistic or disagreeable
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as in:
The test came back negative.
The pregnancy test was negative.
negative = did not find a condition to be present
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
did not find a condition or substance to be present
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as in:
a negative number
The company has a negative cash flow.
negative = less than zero
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sufficient
We have sufficient supplies.
sufficient = adequate (enough — often without being more than is needed)
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Library20 uses in 10 avg bks
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perspective
2 meanings
as in:
Look at it from her perspective
A child who was abused with have a different perspective of family life than one raised in a nurturing home.
perspective = a particular way of seeing or considering things
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as in:
Keep it in perspective
She loses perspective and continually wants to change the plan in a manner that depends on the most recent complaint.
perspective = a sensible view of a situation that considers its different parts in a balanced way
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highlight
2 meanings
as in:
the paragraph highlights...
The main purpose of this passage is to highlight the degree of income inequality.
highlight = emphasize
DefinitionGenerally this sense of highlight means:
to emphasize (call attention to) something; or the thing emphasized
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as in:
highlighted with a yellow marker
The previous owner of the book highlighted with a yellow marker, so I'm using a green one.
highlighted = marked important text
DefinitionGenerally this sense of highlight means:
to mark important text in a book to reinforce memory of it and for review at a later time; or the text that is marked
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vary
Your mileage may vary.
vary = be different
DefinitionGenerally vary means:
to be different, or to change
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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explicit
2 meanings
as in:
explicit instructions
She gave us explicit instructions.
explicit = precisely and clearly expressed
DefinitionGenerally this sense of explicit means:
precise and clear so there is no confusion or doubt about what was/is said
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as in:
explicit photos and pornography
The computer has a filter that blocks explicit photos and pornography.
explicit = expressing or displaying sexual activity or nudity in a manner that leaves little to the imagination
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genuine
I am genuinely sorry for what I did.
genuinely = sincerely
DefinitionGenerally genuine means:
real (as when a person is sincere or an object is not a replica or fake)
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Library19 uses in 10 avg bks
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yield
2 meanings
as in:
will yield valuable data
The discovery could yield a more effective treatment for diabetes.
yield = produce (lead to)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to produce something wanted; or the thing or amount produced
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as in:
yield to pressure
The country vowed not to yield to pressure from its larger neighbors.
yield = give in
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to give in, give way, or give up
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primarily
Did the author mention multiple companies primarily to demonstrate diversity of solutions or to show that interest in the industry is widespread?
primarily = mainly
DefinitionGenerally primarily means:
mainly (most importantly)
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irrelevant
The sentence should be deleted because it introduces information that is irrelevant to the passage.
irrelevant = not relevant
DefinitionGenerally irrelevant means:
not relevant (not related to the subject being considered, or not important enough to want to consider)
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however
3 meanings
as in:
However, complications may...
Most college application deadlines are in January and February. However, early admission deadlines are around November and some scholarships require even earlier deadlines.
however = despite that (a transition word use to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of however means:
despite that (Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include in spite of that, nevertheless, nonetheless, and on the other hand.)
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as in:
However much she tried...
However hard he tried, he couldn't do it.
however = to whatever degree (regardless of how much)
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as in:
However you do it, get it done!
However we do it, someone is going to be unhappy.
however = in whatever way
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advocate
2 meanings
as in:
to advocate
She advocates stricter gun control.
advocates = publicly supports
DefinitionGenerally this sense of advocate means:
to recommend or publicly support someone or something
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as in:
an advocate
She is a passionate advocate for children's welfare.
advocate = a person who publicly supports and works to advance a cause
DefinitionGenerally this sense of advocate means:
a person who publicly supports and works to advance a cause

or more rarely:

someone acting in the role of a defense lawyer in England's past and in some jurisdictions today
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allude
He alluded to Susan without mentioning her name.
alluded = indirectly referenced
DefinitionGenerally allude means:
to make an indirect reference
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counterargument
When I listened to her speech I agreed with her, but then I heard his counterargument and now I'm leaning towards his position.
counterargument = persuasive reasoning offered in opposition to other reasoning
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positive
6 meanings
as in:
I'm absolutely positive!
I'm positive I've seen her before.
positive = certain
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
certain (having no doubt)
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as in:
had a positive effect
Lower interest rates positively affected home sales.
positively = in a good or beneficial manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
good or beneficial
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as in:
positive feedback from my boss
Responses to my plan were positive.
positive = indicating agreement or approval
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
approval or agreement
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as in:
a positive attitude
With a positive attitude and some effort, I'm sure we can make this work.
positive = optimistic
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
optimistic or agreeable
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as in:
The test came back positive.
The pregnancy test was positive.
positive = it found the condition present
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
found a condition or substance to be present
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as in:
a positive number
The company has a positive cash flow.
positive = greater than zero (in this case, cash in minus cash out is greater than zero)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
greater than zero (of a number)
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dominate
The defending World Champions dominated their unranked opponent.
dominated = controlled
DefinitionGenerally dominate means:
to control; or to be most influential, powerful, or conspicuous
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factor
2 meanings
as in:
It was the deciding factor.
During the course of the first paragraph, the narrator's focus shifts from factors making her unhappy to identification of alternatives.
factors = things (that influence an outcome)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of factor means:
one of the things that influences a result or outcome
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as in:
factor it into your thinking
Did you factor maintenance costs into your budget?
factor = include consideration of
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phenomenon
2 meanings
as in:
The phenomenon was observed...
It is a growing social phenomenon on high school campuses.
phenomenon = something that can be seen and is of special interest
DefinitionGenerally this sense of phenomenon means:
something that exists — especially something that can be seen or sensed and is of special interest
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as in:
She is a phenomenon.
It's a surprise phenomenon at the box office.
phenomenon = someone or something considered extraordinary
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diversity
Diversity has strengthened our Board of Directors.
diversity = the condition of variety
DefinitionGenerally diversity means:
the condition of variety — especially in reference to members of a population group who are of different races or cultures
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diverse
The college wants a diverse student body.
diverse = varied — in this case consisting of a population of different kinds of people — such as different ethnic groups and genders
DefinitionGenerally diverse means:
varied (having variety amongst things of the same kind) — especially with regard to ideas or members of a population group
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diversify
They worked hard to diversify the student body.
diversify = to make more varied
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appropriate
as in:
it is appropriate
These clothes aren't appropriate for work.
appropriate = suitable (fitting) for a particular situation
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conflict
Violent conflict has broken out again in the Middle East.
conflict = struggle
DefinitionGenerally conflict means:
a struggle or disagreement (in various senses such as:)
  • a serious disagreement
  • the tension from two opposing ideas or feelings
  • a violent fight or war
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sustain
3 meanings
as in:
sustained by her faith
We sustained ourselves on bread and water.
sustained = supported
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sustain means:
provide support or necessities
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as in:
sustained through the ages
For twenty years, the company has sustained its leading position in creating special effects for films.
sustained = continued through time
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sustain means:
to continue through time
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as in:
sustained wounds
Every building within a two miles of the center of the earthquake sustained damage.
sustained = suffered from
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sustain means:
to suffer (as of injury, damage, or loss)
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conformist
most teenagers are surprisingly conformist within a subgroup
conformist = one who complies with established customs or doctrines
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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ambivalent
Polling indicates the public is ambivalent on the subject. Their opinions change depending upon the latest headlines.
ambivalent = uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
Word Statistics
Library1 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
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distinct
Martinez and his colleagues identified 21 distinct emotions made by the human face.
distinct = different
DefinitionGenerally distinct means:
clear, easily noticed, and/or identifiable as different or separate
Word Statistics
Library23 uses in 10 avg bks
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