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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Vocabulary

Extra Credit Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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aesthetic
1 use
Had I been older I might have thought that I was moved by both an esthetic sense of beauty and the pure emotion of envy.
esthetic = sensitivity to beauty
DefinitionGenerally aesthetic means:
related to beauty or good taste — often referring to one's appreciation of beauty or one's sense of what is beautiful

or:

beautiful or tasteful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 35
Web Links
blasphemy
1 use
To small children, though, the idea of praising God in a tent was confusing, to say the least. It seemed somehow blasphemous.
blasphemous = disrespectful of something considered sacred
DefinitionGenerally blasphemy means:
something said or done that is disrespectful of something considered sacred — especially God or religion
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
bombastic
1 use
But Uncle Willie was suffering under our father's bombastic pressure,
bombastic = pompous or pretentious
DefinitionGenerally bombastic means:
pompous or pretentious talk or writing

(often using difficult words in an attempt to make something sound more important than it is or to make the speaker sound more intelligent)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 9
Web Links
capricious
1 use
the essence of teenage capriciousness
capriciousness = unpredictability
DefinitionGenerally capricious means:
impulsive or unpredictable or tending to make sudden changes — especially impulsive behavior
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 36
Web Links
correspond   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
corresponding by email
Daddy Bailey had a girl friend, who had begun corresponding with me some months before, and she was to meet me at the train.†
corresponding = exchanging letters or messages
DefinitionGenerally this sense of correspond means:
communicate by writing letters or email
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 30
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
a correspondence course
Bailey was obviously always going to be too small to be an athlete, so which concrete angel glued to what country seat had decided that if my brother wanted to become a lawyer he had to first pay penance for his skin by picking cotton and hoeing corn and studying correspondence books at night for twenty years?†
correspondence = done from afar (by mailing letters, reports, etc.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of correspondence means:
done from afar
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 23
Web Links
countenance
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
giving countenance
It was not that he pitied me but that he felt we were in the same boat for different reasons, and that I could understand his frustration just as he could countenance my withdrawal.
countenance = to tolerate, approve, or show favor or support
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 14
Web Links
enigma
3 uses
She, who had never been more than fifty miles from her birthplace, learned to traverse the maze of Spanish-named streets in that enigma that is Los Angeles.
enigma = something that baffles understanding (seems unexplainable)
DefinitionGenerally enigma means:
something mysterious that seems unexplainable
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
florid
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
florid color
My Miss Kirwin, who was a tall, florid, buxom lady with battleship-gray hair, taught civics and current events.
florid = with a reddish complexion
DefinitionGenerally this sense of florid means:
a reddish color — (especially about someone's complexion or in various medical contexts)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 28
Web Links
frivolous
3 uses
she spent no time in indulging the frivolous.
frivolous = things not serious or important
DefinitionGenerally frivolous means:
not serious (in 1 or both of these ways):
  • in behavior or attitude — as when acting silly or without appropriate seriousness
  • in content — as when describing something as trivial or unimportant
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
haughty
4 uses
With the haughtiness San Franciscans have for people who live in the warmer climate, she explained that all I needed were lots of shorts, pedal pushers, sandals and blouses because "southern Californians hardly ever wear anything else."
haughtiness = arrogance or condescension (acting superior or self-important)
DefinitionGenerally haughty means:
arrogant or condescending (acting superior or self-important)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 30
Web Links
incessant
2 uses
She talked incessantly and pointed out places of interest.
incessantly = continuously
DefinitionGenerally incessant means:
continuous — often in an annoying way
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
positive   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
I'm absolutely positive!
He seemed positively diabolic in his enjoyment of our discomfort.†
positively = absolutely (used for emphasis)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
certain (having no doubt; or used for emphasis)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library18 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
a positive attitude
Translated, that meant there was nothing a person can't do, and there should be nothing a human being didn't care about. It was the most positive encouragement I could have hoped for.†
positive = optimistic
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
optimistic (expecting or focusing good things); or agreeable
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 34
Web Links
pretentious
3 uses
My formal Spanish must have sounded as pretentious to the ears of the paisano as "Whither goeth my sire?"
pretentious = showy (trying to appear impressive)
DefinitionGenerally pretentious means:
acting more impressive than is deserved
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 26
Web Links
servile
1 use
My grandmother, too, followed their orders, except that she didn't seem to be servile because she anticipated their needs.
servile = slave-like
DefinitionGenerally servile means:
submissive — typically excessively so (so submissive or eager to serve and please that one seems to have no self-respect)

or:

relating to the work that requires obeying demeaning commands

or:

slave-like or relating to slaves
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
supercilious
1 use
While I spoke in supercilious accents, and looked at the room as if I had an oil well in my own backyard, my...
supercilious = self-important
DefinitionGenerally supercilious means:
arrogant (acting as if better, more important, and superior in ideas than others)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 34
Web Links
tedious
5 uses
We spent tedious hours teaching ourselves the Tut language.
tedious = long, monotonous (boring)
DefinitionGenerally tedious means:
boring — especially because something goes on too long or without variation
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 22
Web Links
transitory
1 use
To small children, though, the idea of praising God in a tent was confusing.... Would the gentle Jesus care to enter into that transitory setting?
transitory = temporary (lasting a short time)
DefinitionGenerally transitory means:
lasting a short time
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
yield
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
will yield valuable data
One leg had yielded itself to the loose dirt.†
yielded = given

(editor's note:  By yielded itself to , she is saying that one leg of the alter table had fallen into the loose dirt.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to produce (usually something wanted); or the thing or amount produced
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
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