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Swann's Way
Vocabulary

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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aesthetic
15 uses
No doubt they regarded aesthetic values as material objects which an unclouded vision could not fail to discern, without needing to have their equivalent in experience of life stored up and slowly ripening in one's heart.
aesthetic = one's sense of what is beautiful
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
de Guermantes, taking a sudden capricious fancy for myself, invited me there,
capricious = impulsive
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
What I must know is whether you are indeed ... one of those contemptible creatures who are incapable of foregoing a pleasure.
contemptible = very bad (deserving no respect)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
discern
17 uses
No doubt they regarded aesthetic values as material objects which an unclouded vision could not fail to discern, without needing to have their equivalent in experience of life stored up and slowly ripening in one's heart.
discern = see (notice)
DefinitionGenerally discern means:
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
M. de Charlus was somewhat inclined to eccentricity,
eccentricity = unconventional or strange behavior
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 facts of life do not penetrate to the sphere in which our beliefs are cherished; as it was not they that engendered those beliefs, so they are powerless to destroy them;
engendered = created (caused)
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
He had so long since ceased to direct his course towards any ideal goal, and had confined himself to the pursuit of ephemeral satisfactions,
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
his actions were generally dictated by chance expediencies rather than based on any formal plan.
expediencies = actions that are convenient
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
caught in the treadmill of their own maladies and eccentricities, their futile endeavours to escape serve only to actuate its mechanism,
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
He noticed the incessant rumble of passing carriages, to which he had never before I wanted to see her, because, having incessantly sought to form a mental picture of her, I was unable, in the end, to do so, and did not know exactly to what my love corresponded.
incessantly = continuously
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
Filled with ironical melancholy,
ironical = when what happens is very different than what might be expected
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
...he would cloak his words in a tone of irony, as though he did not altogether associate himself with what he was saying.
irony = saying one thing while meaning something else
DefinitionGenerally this sense of irony means:
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.
...had I been obliged, the next moment, to hurl myself out of the window, I should still have preferred such a fate.
obliged = required (obligated) to do something
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.
And then, seeing that M. de Froberville was still gazing at Mme. de Cambremer, she added, half out of malice towards the lady, half wishing to oblige the General: "Not very nice.... for her husband!"
oblige = grant a favor to someone
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
pious
8 uses
certain good and pious and slightly withered ladies of Combray whom I used to see at mass,
pious = behaving in a highly moral or religious manner
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
And so I would prudently turn the conversation.
prudently = with good sense and caution
DefinitionGenerally prudent means:
sensible and careful
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
repudiate
1 use
Furthermore, it suggests reasons of personal convenience, rather than any definite repudiation,
repudiation = strong rejection
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
Surely, even had she been the most scrupulous of women, she could hardly have felt remorse for so innocent a lie.
scrupulous = careful to behave ethically
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
The kitchen-maid was an abstract personality ... throughout the long series of transitory human shapes in which that personality was incarnate; for we never found the same girl there two years running.
transitory = lasting a short time
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
zeal
4 uses
Legrandin's face shewed an extraordinary zeal and animation;
zeal = interest and enthusiasm

(editor's note:  shewed is a synonym for showed)
DefinitionGenerally zeal means:
active interest and enthusiasm
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
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