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The Catcher in the Rye
Vocabulary

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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acquaint
1 use
I was personally acquainted with at least two girls he gave the time to.
acquainted = familiar with; or a friend of
DefinitionGenerally acquaint means:
to cause to know; or to cause to be familiar with
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
aggravate
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
she aggravates me
...he could really be aggravating sometimes.
aggravating = annoying (irritating)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of aggravate means:
annoy or irritate
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
alternative
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
an alternative plan
[referring to the exam paper]  Bring it here, please. It was a very dirty trick, but I went over and brought it over to him—I didn't have any alternative or anything.
alternative = other possibility
DefinitionGenerally this sense of alternative means:
something available as another possibility
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
annex
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
annex of the main building
She's waiting in the annex.
annex = an addition that extends a main building
DefinitionGenerally this sense of annex means:
an addition that extends a main building

or:

to attach something — especially to something larger or more important
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
bourgeois
5 uses
...my suitcases, for instance. He kept saying they were too new and bourgeois.
bourgeois = represented middle class values
DefinitionGenerally bourgeois means:
typical of the middle class or their values and habits - typically used disapprovingly

or (in Marxist theory):

typical of the property-owning class
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
conscientious
1 use
Some of the faculty are pretty conscientious.
conscientious = characterized by extreme care and great effort
DefinitionGenerally conscientious means:
careful to do what is right—especially to perform duties in a thorough manner (as when guided by conscience)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
digress
8 uses
The trouble with me is, I like it when somebody digresses. It's more interesting and all.
digresses = wanders off topic while talking
DefinitionGenerally digress means:
wander from a direct or straight course — especially verbally
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
harrowing
1 use
Apparently before he phoned me he'd just had a long, rather harrowing letter from your latest headmaster, to the effect that you were making absolutely no effort at all.
harrowing = unsettling
DefinitionGenerally this sense of harrowing means:
frightening or unsettling
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
immaterial
1 use
"It's immaterial to me," she said.
immaterial = unimportant
DefinitionGenerally this sense of immaterial means:
not important, or not relevant
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
infirmary
2 uses
Old Mr. Antolini felt his pulse and all, and then he took off his coat and put it over James Castle and carried him all the way over to the infirmary.
infirmary = a small facility where patients receive treatment
DefinitionGenerally infirmary means:
a small facility where patients receive treatment — such as a room or two at a school as contrasted to a busy hospital or medical clinic
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
innumerable
1 use
Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries.
innumerable = too numerous to be counted
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
matinée
4 uses
I'd made that date to go to a matinee with old Sally Hayes, and I needed to keep some dough for the tickets and stuff.
matinee = daytime performance
DefinitionGenerally matinée means:
a daytime performance (of something like a movie or play)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
monotonous
2 uses
He started talking in this very monotonous voice,
monotonous = boring
DefinitionGenerally monotonous means:
lacking in variety — typically boring
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
nonchalant
2 uses
I just got very cool and nonchalant.
nonchalant = calm and unconcerned
DefinitionGenerally nonchalant means:
calm in manner — appearing unconcerned
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
repulsive
1 use
I won't even tell you what they did to him—it's too repulsive—but he still wouldn't take it back, old James Castle.
repulsive = disgusting
DefinitionGenerally this sense of repulsive means:
very unpleasant or causing disgust
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 22
Web Links
sacrilege
1 use
Sally said I was a sacrilegious atheist.
sacrilegious = disrespectful of something others consider sacred
DefinitionGenerally sacrilege means:
disrespect of something others consider important or sacred
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
scrupulous
1 use
If you knew Stradlater, you'd have been worried, too. ... He was unscrupulous.
unscrupulous = unethical

(editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unscrupulous means not and reverses the meaning of scrupulous. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
DefinitionGenerally scrupulous means:
careful to behave ethically and/or diligently (with great care and attention to detail)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
sheer
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
sheer fun
So when I told old Spencer I had to go to the gym and get my equipment and stuff, that was a sheer lie.
sheer = pure or complete
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sheer means:
complete or pure — without restriction,  qualification, or other elements (used for emphasis)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
sober
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
Talk to me when your sober.
I can't sit in a corny place like this cold sober.
sober = not under the influence of alcohol
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
spontaneous
1 use
It's this course where each boy in class has to get up in class and make a speech. You know. spontaneous and all.
spontaneous = without planning
DefinitionGenerally spontaneous means:
happening or arising without plan (naturally)

or:

behaving in an instinctive, uninhibited manner (unplanned)

or:

happening without apparent external cause
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
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