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The Things They Carried

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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acquiesce
1 use
I'd be screaming at them, telling them how much I detested their blind, thoughtless, automatic acquiescence to it all, their simple-minded patriotism ... how they were sending me off to fight a war they didn't understand and didn't want to understand.
acquiescence = compliance
DefinitionGenerally acquiesce means:
reluctant or unenthusiastic compliance, consent, or agreement
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
alternative
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
an alternative plan
They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall. So easy, really. Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge until your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world.
alternative = other possibility
DefinitionGenerally this sense of alternative means:
something available as another possibility
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
anarchy
1 use
Order blends into chaos, love into hate, ugliness into beauty, law into anarchy, civility into savagery.
anarchy = complete absence of law (political authority)
DefinitionGenerally anarchy means:
the complete absence of political authority; or more generally, complete absence of order
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
blatant
1 use
Often they were exaggerated, or blatant lies, but it was a way of bringing body and soul back together, or a way of making new bodies for the souls to inhabit.
blatant = obvious
DefinitionGenerally blatant means:
obvious — often without any attempt to hide bad behavior
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 22
Web Links
censure
1 use
I feared ridicule and censure.
censure = criticism
DefinitionGenerally censure means:
harsh criticism; or formal criticism from an organization — such as the U.S. Senate
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
consequence   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 6 uses
1  —5 uses as in:
a direct consequence of
A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever.
consequences = results
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
a result of something (often an undesired side effect)
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
of little consequence
Hygiene became a matter of small consequence.
consequence = importance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
importance or relevance
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 9
Web Links
correspond
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
corresponding time period
At its core, perhaps, war is just another name for death, and yet any soldier will tell you, if he tells the truth, that proximity to death brings with it a corresponding proximity to life.†
corresponding = proportional
DefinitionGenerally this sense of correspond means:
connect or fit together by being equivalent, proportionate, or matched

(Two things are equivalent if they have the same or very similar value, purpose, or result.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
digress
1 use
All these digressions, they just screw up your story's sound.
digressions = wanderings from the main storyline

(editor's note:  The suffix "-sions", converts a verb into a plural noun that denotes results of the verb. Typically, there is a slight change in the ending of the root verb, as in discussions from discuss, explosions from explode, and revisions from revise.)
DefinitionGenerally digress means:
wander from a direct or straight course — typically verbally
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 9
Web Links
direct   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 4 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
directly above; or buy direct from
I was directly behind him.†
directly = close (without anything in between)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straight (exactly where stated); or without involvement of anything in between
The exact meaning of this sense of direct is subject to its context. For example:
  • "The road runs directly to Las Vegas." — straight (without varying from a straight line)
  • "It was a direct hit." — exact
  • "The plant is in direct sunlight." — unobstructed (without anything in between)
  • "She wants a direct meeting with him." — personal (without other people in between)
  • "She paid direct attention to what he was reading." — close
  • "a direct gaze" — straight, steady, or focused—not a brief glance taken while generally looking at other things; not a sideways look
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library62 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 16
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
was direct in my instructions
In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor.†
directness = the quality of being straightforward or clear

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-ness" converts an adjective to a noun that means the quality of. This is the same pattern you see in words like darkness, kindness, and coolness.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straightforward (uncomplicated or simple — perhaps also indicating openness and honesty)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
factor
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
It was the deciding factor.
He would dispense with love; it was not now a factor.†
factor = thing that affects a result or outcome
DefinitionGenerally this sense of factor means:
something that affects a result or outcome
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
irony
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
situational irony
"Wasted in the waste," he said. "... You got to admit, it's pure world-class irony."
irony = an amusing coincidence
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
Book2 uses
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
negative
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
negative feedback from customers
"Negative," Sanders said.†
negative = indicating an answer of "no"
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
to express criticism or disagreement, or (especially when talking over a radio or in a military setting) to say "no"
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
perimeter
14 uses
Bunker Six, a pile of sandbags at the southwest corner of the perimeter.
perimeter = the outer edge of a defended area
DefinitionGenerally perimeter means:
the outer edge
The exact meaning of perimeter can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "Stay inside the defensive perimeter." — the outer edges of the area that is defended
  • "It is common on the city's perimeter." — the outer edges of the city
  • "What is the perimeter of the square?" — the sum of the length of the sides of a geometric shape
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library12 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
pious
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a good, pious woman
All of them-I held them personally and individually responsible-the polyestered Kiwanis boys, the merchants and farmers, the pious churchgoers, the chatty housewives, the PTA and the Lions club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the fine upstanding gentry out at the country club.
pious = religious
DefinitionGenerally this sense of pious means:
religious or highly moral
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
positive   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
I'm absolutely positive!
  "You sure?"
  "Positive."†
positive = certain
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
certain (having no doubt; or used for emphasis)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library22 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
had a positive effect
It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor.†
positive = good
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
good or beneficial
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
ration
8 uses
Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake.
rations = fixed portions of food
DefinitionGenerally ration means:
verb:  to restrict the amount of something each person can have — such as food or gasoline when there is a shortage, or when more is wanted than is available

or:

noun:  a fixed portion of something that is given as a person's share — such as goods of which there is a shortage, or food for soldiers in the field
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
valor
7 uses
He would've explained to his father that none of these decorations was for uncommon valor.
valor = exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger — especially in battle
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
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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