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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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acquiesce
2 uses
Though amazed at so curious an objection, the Americans, still smiling, acquiesced:
acquiesced = complied
DefinitionGenerally acquiesce means:
reluctant or unenthusiastic compliance, consent, or agreement
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
aesthetic
7 uses
Sabina's initial inner revolt against Communism was aesthetic rather than ethical in character.
aesthetic = (having to do with) a sense of 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
Book7 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
apathy
2 uses
As a result of such apathy, the countryside had maintained more than a modicum of autonomy and freedom.
apathy = lack of interest and enthusiasm
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
banal
3 uses
she had failed to understand his apprehensive attempts to save their love from banality
banality = being uninteresting due to a lack of anything original or unusual
DefinitionGenerally banal means:
uninteresting due to a lack of anything original or unusual

(editor's note:  This word is correctly pronounced differently by various educated speakers of American English.)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
complacent
1 use
Their smiles were all the more complacent because he had never had the reputation of being a conformist.
complacent = contented (unworried and satisfied)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
condescending
4 uses
dismiss it with a condescending laugh
condescending = treating as inferior and beneath respect
DefinitionGenerally condescending means:
treating others as inferior; or doing something considered beneath one's position or dignity
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
denounce
3 uses
it was a time when news about who betrayed, who denounced, and who collaborated spread through nervous Prague
denounced = informed against someone to the authorities
DefinitionGenerally denounce means:
to strongly criticize or accuse publicly

or more rarely:  to inform against someone (turn someone into the authorities)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
discord
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
discord amongst the group
It sounded cold, almost hostile. Apparently hoping to counteract the discordant note, the editor said, ...
discordant = argumentative (harsh)
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 5
Web Links
disdain
1 use
The chairs and stalls seem to have been placed there without the slightest concern for the shape of the walls or position of the columns, as if wishing to express their indifference to or disdain for Gothic architecture.
disdain = a lack of respect
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
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
dispose
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
disposed the troops along...
What weapons did she have at her disposal?†
disposal = command

(editor's note:  When something is "at someone's disposal" it is "at their command," or "available for their use." They can use it as they please.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispose means:
the arrangement, positioning, or use of things
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
eccentric
3 uses
She announced to her husband (whom she now considered a difficult drunk rather than an eccentric) that she was leaving him.
eccentric = unconventional or strange
DefinitionGenerally eccentric means:
unconventional or strange; or a person with such traits
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
incessant
2 uses
his wife had fallen into a deep depression and complained incessantly
incessantly = continuously
DefinitionGenerally incessant means:
continuous — often in an annoying way
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
irony   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —1 use as in:
situational irony
In a flash of insight Franz saw how laughable they all were, but instead of cutting him off from them or flooding him with irony, the thought made him feel the kind of infinite love we feel for the condemned.
irony = 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
Book1 use
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
verbal irony
To clear the air Tomas came out with as sprightly a "Fine, just fine!" as he could muster, but he immediately felt that no matter how hard he tried (in fact, because he tried so hard), his "fine" sounded bitterly ironic.
ironic = saying one thing while meaning the opposite
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
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
mitigate
2 uses
This mitigating circumstance prevents us from coming to a verdict.
mitigating = making less harmful or unpleasant
DefinitionGenerally mitigate means:
make less harmful or unpleasant
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
pedantic
1 use
All else he excluded (almost pedantically) from his memory.
pedantically = with too much concern for details
DefinitionGenerally pedantic means:
too concerned with formal rules, details, or book learning
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
polygamy
2 uses
Then, when the evidence became too blatant, he argued that his polygamous way of life did not in the least run counter to his love for her.
polygamous = having more than one wife
DefinitionGenerally polygamy means:
the practice of being married to more than one person at the same time
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
reprehensible
1 use
Was it really so reprehensible that he was afraid of his fourteen-year-old daughter's coming home pregnant?
reprehensible = bad and unacceptable
DefinitionGenerally reprehensible means:
bad — deserving severe criticism
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
resignation   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
submitted her resignation
The very next day he resigned from the clinic,
resigned = quit (a job)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resignation means:
to quit — especially a job or position; or a document expressing such an act
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library12 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
accepted it with resignation
...he resigned himself with a sigh to a sea of words with no weight and no resemblance to life.
resigned = gave up (accepting something undesired as unavoidable or the lesser of evils)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resignation means:
acceptance of something undesired as unavoidable or the lesser of evils
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 3
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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