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Snow Falling on Cedars

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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capricious
1 use
She licked the envelope shut herself and, because the notion took hold of her suddenly—a kind of caprice and nothing more—she pressed the stamp on upside down before putting the letter in the mailbox.
caprice = unpredictable impulse
DefinitionGenerally capricious means:
impulsive or unpredictable or tending to make sudden changes — especially impulsive behavior
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
condensation
1 use
A fog of condensation had formed on the inside of the pane, so that her image appeared to him as a kind of silhouette, a vague impression of his mother at the sink, refracted and fragmented, a wash of color.
condensation = water formed from water vapor
DefinitionGenerally condensation means:
water that forms from warm air that comes in contact with a cold surface — such as the outside of a glass of ice water; or the process of the liquid forming

or:

an abridgement (shortened version of writing)

or:

anything made smaller, more compressed
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
defendant
102 uses
the defendant's motive for committing murder
defendant = the person accused of a crime in court
DefinitionGenerally defendant means:
a person or institution legally accused or sued in court
Word Statistics
Book102 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
digress
1 use
But—I digress,
digress = wander off topic
DefinitionGenerally digress means:
wander from a direct or straight course — typically verbally
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 29
Web Links
discern
6 uses
Hatsue studied the photograph for a long time, particularly Kabuo's eyes and mouth, to see what she might discern there.
discern = notice or understand (that is not obvious)
DefinitionGenerally discern means:
to notice or understand something — often something that is not obvious
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 22
Web Links
discord   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
discord amongst the group
discordant with the sinewy length of his jawline
discordant = seeming different  or wrong together
DefinitionGenerally this sense of discord means:
conflict or disagreement — especially among those expected to cooperate

or (especially in the form discordant):

seeming different  or wrong along with everything else
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
discordant music
the two of them sounded at the same moment, a clash of sound, discordant.
discordant = unpleasant sounding together
DefinitionGenerally this sense of discord means:
unpleasant sound — especially a combination of sounds that sound wrong together (though sometimes done intentionally in music)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 32
Web Links
disdain
3 uses
...the white people on the streets outside treated them with humiliating disdain.
disdain = a lack of respect with an undeserved sense of superiority
DefinitionGenerally disdain means:
a lack of respect — often suggesting distaste and an undeserved sense of superiority

or:

to reject as not good enough
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
dubious
2 uses
The DeSoto, he knew, was a dubious snow car.
dubious = doubtful (not to be relied upon)
DefinitionGenerally dubious means:
doubtful
in various senses, including:
  • doubtful that something should be relied upon — as in "The argument relies on a dubious assumption."
  • doubtful that something is morally proper — as in "The company is accused of using dubious sales practices to influence minors."
  • bad or of questionable value — as in "The state has the dubious distinction of the highest taxes."
  • doubtful or uncertain — as in "She is dubious about making the change."
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
eccentric
5 uses
Settlers arrived—mostly wayward souls and eccentrics who had meandered off the Oregon Trail.
eccentrics = unconventional or strange people
DefinitionGenerally eccentric means:
unconventional or strange; or a person with such traits
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 29
Web Links
fastidious
2 uses
Then he dried his steel-rimmed glasses on a towel and, because he was fastidious, got his surgical gown on.
fastidious = giving careful attention to detail; or excessively concerned with cleanliness
DefinitionGenerally fastidious means:
giving careful attention to detail

or:

excessively concerned with cleanliness or matters of taste
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
incessant
3 uses
He knew she read incessantly—Shakespeare, Henry James, Dickens, Thomas Hardy—but he did not think this could fill her days.
incessantly = continuously
DefinitionGenerally incessant means:
continuous — often in an annoying way
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 16
Web Links
meticulous
4 uses
He was, his son remembered, morally meticulous...
meticulous = careful in every detail
DefinitionGenerally meticulous means:
treating details with great care
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 14
Web Links
morose
5 uses
He sat morosely with his elbows on his desk, cradling his chin in his hands.
morosely = unhappily
DefinitionGenerally morose means:
unhappy — often with a withdrawn personality
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
obscure
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
it obscured my view
Now the fog comes in thick and strong, a big fog, obscuring everything from sight.
obscuring = hiding (making less visible)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of obscure means:
to block from view or make less visible or understandable
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 26
Web Links
relevant
5 uses
If you determine that he is guilty of something else—of hatred, of assault, of manslaughter, of murder in self-defense, of coldness, of passion, of second-degree murder—none of that will be relevant.
relevant = relating in a meaningful way to the issue in question
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
scrutiny
2 uses
Now, looking at himself, scrutinizing his face, he saw that he appeared defiant
scrutinizing = looking at very carefully

(editor's note:  The suffix "-ive" converts a word to a verb. This is the same pattern you see in words like apologize, theorize, and dramatize.)
DefinitionGenerally scrutiny means:
careful examination of something
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
vestige
4 uses
in his high school days Abel Martinson had been moderately restless, that in the interim between then and now he had changed, and that this truck was the last vestige of his former self:
vestige = trace (small amount)
DefinitionGenerally vestige means:
a remaining trace (little bit of something) that was previously abundant
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
yield   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —1 use as in:
will yield valuable data
Snow fell that morning outside the courthouse windows, four tall, narrow arches of leaded glass that yielded a great quantity of weak December light.†
yielded = gave or produced
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 1
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
yield to pressure
Your task as you deliberate together on these proceedings is to ensure that you do nothing to yield to a universe in which things go awry by happenstance.†
yield = give in, give way, or give up
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to give in, give way, or give up
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 22
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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