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Swann's Way
Vocabulary

Top-Ranked Words with Typical Sample Sentences

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aesthetic
15 uses
It was not aesthetically pleasing.
aesthetically = in a manner that is beautiful or tasteful
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
Book15 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
capricious
5 uses
Nothing seems more capricious than a tornado.
capricious = impulsive or unpredictable
DefinitionGenerally capricious means:
impulsive or unpredictable or tending to make sudden changes — especially impulsive behavior
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
contemptible
4 uses
She is uninformed and her views are contemptible.
contemptible = very bad (deserving no respect)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
discern
17 uses
The second picture has more pixels, but the human eye can't discern the difference.
discern = to notice or understand something — often something that is not obvious
Word Statistics
Book17 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
eccentric
5 uses
She's a little eccentric, but we don't mind because she's the best player on the team.
eccentric = unconventional or strange
DefinitionGenerally eccentric means:
unconventional or strange; or a person with such traits
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
engender
6 uses
The police in Mexico don't engender confidence.
engender = cause
DefinitionGenerally engender means:
cause — usually a feeling (possibly a situation)
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
ephemeral
5 uses
Her fame was ephemeral.
ephemeral = existing only for a short time
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
expedient
4 uses
It was a necessary expedient to get the job done.
expedient = a speedy or practical action

(The word necessary, implies that there were undesired aspects of the action.)
DefinitionGenerally expedient means:
a practical action — especially one that accepts negative tradeoffs due to circumstances

or:

convenient, speedy, or practical
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
futile
11 uses
It was a futile effort that was doomed form the start.
futile = effort that is pointless because it is unproductive or unsuccessful
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
incessant
18 uses
She grew annoyed by the child's incessant questions.
incessant = continuous (and often annoying)
DefinitionGenerally incessant means:
continuous — often in an annoying way
Word Statistics
Book18 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
irony   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 5 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
situational irony
She didn't see the irony in acting like the mother she detested.
irony = when what happens is very different than what might be expected; or when things are together that seem like they don't belong together
DefinitionGenerally this sense of irony means:
when what happens is very different than what might be expected; or when things are together that seem like they don't belong together — especially when amusing or an entertaining coincidence
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
verbal irony
She was being ironic when she said she couldn't wait to see you again.
ironic = saying one thing, while meaning the opposite or something else — usually as humor or sarcasm
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
oblige   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 25 uses
1  —22 uses as in:
I am obliged by law.
The law obliges doctors to report suspected child abuse.
obliges = requires
DefinitionGenerally this sense of oblige means:
require (obligate) to do something
Word Statistics
Book22 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
2  —3 uses as in:
I obliged her every request.
She asked for help and we obliged her.
obliged = granted a favor to someone
DefinitionGenerally this sense of oblige means:
grant a favor to someone
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
pious
8 uses
The cartoon with a drawing of Muhammad outraged many pious Muslims.
pious = highly religious
DefinitionGenerally pious means:
behaving in a highly moral or religious manner

or less commonly:  behaving highly moral in a self-righteous or holier-than-thou manner
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
prudent
7 uses
She was promoted to manager because she is so prudent.
prudent = sensible and careful
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
repudiate
1 use
The parents repudiated their son.
repudiated = strongly rejected
DefinitionGenerally repudiate means:
strong rejection — especially when the idea or thing being rejected was once embraced
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
scrupulous
11 uses
You can count on her. She is scrupulous in her work.
scrupulous = careful to behave ethically and/or diligently
DefinitionGenerally scrupulous means:
careful to behave ethically and/or diligently (with great care and attention to detail)
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
transitory
2 uses
Do not be concerned about mild, transitory symptoms.
transitory = lasting a short time
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
zeal
4 uses
She attacks each challenge with zeal.
zeal = active interest and enthusiasm
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
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