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The Merchant of Death

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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adapt
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
adapted to the new rules
You know when you first jump into the ocean you get a jolt of cold, but then your body quickly adapts and you get used to it?†
adapts = changes to fit a different situation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of adapt means:
changed to fit a different situation; or made suitable
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
agony
6 uses
Or would it start at my feet and gradually work its way up my legs, over my body, and zero in right on my head in a brilliant, searing flash of agony before everything went dark?†
agony = intense suffering
DefinitionGenerally agony means:
intense feelings of suffering — can be from mental or physical pain
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
approach
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
approached the city
But as I approached my destination I had a moment's hesitation.†
approached = got near
DefinitionGenerally this sense of approach means:
to get closer to (near in space, time, quantity, or quality)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library104 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
attain
1 use
But not in that unattainable she's too good for everybody way.†
unattainable = not able to be gained or reached with effort

(Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unattainable means not and reverses the meaning of attainable. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
DefinitionGenerally attain means:
to gain or reach something with effort
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
conflict
5 uses
To say that my mind was a jumble of conflicting thoughts was an understatement.†
conflicting = opposing (struggling against each other)
DefinitionGenerally conflict means:
a struggle or disagreement
in various senses, including:
  • a serious disagreement — as in "political conflict"
  • the tension from two opposing ideas or feelings — as in "I'm conflicted about where I should go to college."
  • a violent fight or war — as in "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict"
  • an idiom that refers to tension between responsibilities to different entities — "conflict of interest"
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library21 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
disdain
2 uses
Courtney wheeled back to Mark, throwing him a look of total disdain.†
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
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
dispute
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
their border dispute
There are always wars and disputes and battles.
disputes = disagreements
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispute means:
disagreement, argument, or conflict
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
diverse
2 uses
The two would spend hours debating issues as diverse as First Amendment rights and the relative merits of Pamela Anderson before and after cosmetic surgery.†
diverse = varied (having variety with differences)
DefinitionGenerally diverse means:
varied (having variety amongst things of the same kind) — especially with regard to ideas or members of a population group
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
dumfounded
5 uses
Courtney breathed, dumbfounded.†
dumbfounded = very surprised — often too surprised to know what to say or do
DefinitionGenerally dumfounded means:
very surprised - often too surprised to know what to say or do
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
futile
5 uses
Mark dug his heels in and pushed his back against the wall behind his bed in the futile hope that he'd crash through and escape out the other side.†
futile = effort that is pointless because it is unproductive or unsuccessful
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
grave
1 use
I wasn't sure why this was such a bad thing, but from the look on Uncle Press's face, I had made a grave mistake.†
grave = serious and solemn
DefinitionGenerally this sense of grave means:
serious and/or solemn
The exact meaning of this sense of grave can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "This is a grave problem," or "a situation of the utmost gravity." — important, dangerous, or causing worry
  • "She was in a grave mood upon returning from the funeral." — sad or solemn
  • "She looked me in the eye and gravely promised." — in a sincere and serious manner
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
kiosk
4 uses
Uncle Press guided the motorcycle toward one of those old-fashioned kiosks that marked the stairs leading down to the subway.†
kiosks = a very small area used as a store or to dispense information; or an interactive computer-driven self-service machine
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
ominous
6 uses
I'm not sure why, but that sounded strange, and a touch ominous.†
ominous = threatening (suggestive of, or foreshadowing bad things to come)
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
on the other hand
10 uses
I, on the other hand, understood nothing.†
on the other hand = from another point of view; or in a way that is different (a phrase used to introduce a different perspective or idea)
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library23 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
phenomenon
1 use
This was a one-time phenomenon, and we had survived it.†
phenomenon = something that exists or happened — often of special interest
DefinitionGenerally phenomenon means:
something that exists or happened — especially something of special interest — sometimes someone or something that is extraordinary
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
revolution
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
the computer revolution
I wasn't a revolutionary, or a fighter, or anything else they wanted me to be.†
revolutionary = related to or causing dramatic change; of a supporter of the change

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-ary" means related to. This is the same pattern you see in words like honorary, cautionary, and momentary.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of revolution means:
dramatic change — sometimes violent overthrow of a government
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library17 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
skeptical
3 uses
"Why?" asked Courtney, oozing skepticism.†
skepticism = doubt (that something is true)
DefinitionGenerally skeptical means:
doubtful (that something is true or worthwhile)

or more rarely:

generally tending to doubt what others believe
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
sober
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a sobering thought
"Save them and they'll kill you," he said soberly.
soberly = seriously
DefinitionGenerally this sense of sobering means:
serious; or making one serious or calm
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
sufficient
1 use
Now they'll have to be more self-sufficient.†
sufficient = adequate (enough — often without being more than is needed)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library22 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
tirade
2 uses
Mark tried to stop her angry tirade, but Courtney was on a roll.†
tirade = speech of angry criticism
DefinitionGenerally tirade means:
a speech of angry criticism
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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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