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The Merchant of Venice
Vocabulary

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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allay
2 uses
be moderate; allay thy ecstasy; In measure rain thy joy; scant this excess; I feel too much thy blessing; make it less, For fear I surfeit!
allay = reduce the intensity of or calm
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 2.2
Web Links
amity
2 uses
There may as well be amity and life
'Tween snow and fire as treason and my love.
amity = friendly relations

(editor's note:  No Fear Shakespeare paraphrases this as "Treason has nothing at all to do with my love. They're as opposite as hot and cold.")
DefinitionGenerally amity means:
a state of friendly relations
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 3.2
Web Links
bereft
1 use
Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
bereft = deprived (taken from)
DefinitionGenerally bereft means:
lacking something that is desired

or:

suffered great sadness because of loss or lack of something expected or strongly desired

or:

deprived (taken away something that is desired)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 3.2
Web Links
beseech
7 uses
I beseech you, sir, go:
beseech = ask strongly or beg
DefinitionGenerally beseech means:
to ask strongly or beg for something
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 2.2
Web Links
bound   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
bound together
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.†
bound = connected or tied
DefinitionGenerally this sense of bound means:
held together (connected or united) or wrapped

(see word notes for a more detailed definition based upon context)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useScene 5.1
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
I can't/must. I'm bound by...
I am not bound to please thee with my answer.†
bound = required
DefinitionGenerally this sense of bound means:
tied up, prevented, or required
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useScene 4.1
Web Links
commend
7 uses
This letter from Bellario doth commend a young and learned doctor to our court.
commend = express a favorable opinion
DefinitionGenerally commend means:
praise or recommend
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 1.1
direct   (4 meanings)
4 meanings, 8 uses
1  —1 use as in:
directly above; or buy direct from
...at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's house.†
indirectly = going around (not in a straight line)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straight (exactly where stated); or without involvement of anything in between
—including such senses as:
  • straight (without varying from a straight line)
  • exact (without other factors)
  • close (with other factors minimized)
  • personal (without other people in between)
  • unobstructed (without anything in between)
  • of a look: straight, steady, or focused—not a brief glance taken while generally looking at other things; not a sideways look
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library53 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 2.2
Web Links
2  —4 uses as in:
was direct in my instructions
For it appears by manifest proceeding
That indirectly, and directly too,
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr'd
The danger formerly by me rehears'd.†
indirectly = in a complicated, non-obvious manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straightforward (uncomplicated or simple — perhaps also indicating openness and honesty)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library12 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useScene 4.1
Web Links
3  —1 use as in:
directed her question to
Some god direct my judgment!†
direct = guide
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
to indicate direction; or cause movement or focus in a direction or towards an object — such as
  • to aim a gun or comment at someone
  • to point in a particular direction
  • to focus attention on a particular object
  • to guide or give directions to someone to help them move to a particular place
  • to send someone to a particular place
  • to steer a car, boat, etc.
  • to send a letter to a particular person by putting a name and address on it
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library31 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useScene 2.7
Web Links
4  —2 uses as in:
directed the jury to...
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.†
directed = commanded
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
give instructions or commands
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useScene 2.4
Web Links
dwell
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
It dwells in the forest.
You shall not seal to such a bond for me; I'll rather dwell in my necessity.
dwell = live
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwell means:
make one's home in; or to live in; or to stay (in a place)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useScene 1.3
Web Links
entreat
5 uses
Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.
entreat = ask
DefinitionGenerally entreat means:
to ask or attempt to persuade — especially while trying hard to overcome resistance
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 2.2
Web Links
flourish
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
dismissed them with a flourish
Flourish of cornets.
flourish = a showy gesture (in this case fanfare played by the musical instrument)

(editor's note:  In Shakespeare's plays, flourish is often used as a stage direction indicating a specific type of showy gesture:  fanfare played by trumpets or cornets to announce the entry or exit of royalty.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of flourish means:
a showy gesture

or:

the act of waving — a hand or an item
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 2.1
Web Links
forbearance
1 use
I lose your company; therefore forbear a while.
forbear = refrain (hold back) from acting
DefinitionGenerally forbearance means:
refraining (holding back) from acting

or:

patience, tolerance, or self-control
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 3.2
Web Links
forfeit
11 uses
Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh:
forfeit = loses by not paying
DefinitionGenerally forfeit means:
to lose or surrender something — often as a penalty
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 1.3
Web Links
notwithstanding
3 uses
ANTONIO: I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.
PORTIA: Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.
notwithstanding = despite what was just said (in this case, even though he is the subject of the quarrels, he is still welcome.)
DefinitionGenerally notwithstanding means:
in spite of; or in spite of the thing mentioned
(Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include words and phrases such as nevertheless, nonetheless, all the same, still,  and however.)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useScene 1.3
Web Links
prodigal
5 uses
a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto;
prodigal = someone who is recklessly wasteful
DefinitionGenerally prodigal means:
recklessly wasteful

or more rarely:

abundant (extravagant in amount)

or more rarely still:

long absent (someone who has been away a long time)
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useScene 1.1
Web Links
render
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
rendered service or a verdict
we do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.
render = give
DefinitionGenerally this sense of render means:
to give or supply something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useScene 4.1
Web Links
rigorous
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a rigorous math class
His rigorous course
rigorous = difficult and demanding
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useScene 4.1
Web Links
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Sample usage followed by this mark was not checked by an editor. Please let us know if you spot a problem.
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