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The Screwtape Letters

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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ascetic
1 use
Instil into him an overweening asceticism and then, when you have separated his sexuality from all that might humanise it, weigh in on him with it in some much more brutal and cynical form.
asceticism = the practice of extreme self-denial (often to encourage spiritual growth)
DefinitionGenerally ascetic means:
someone who practices self-denial (often to encourage spiritual growth); or relating to such self-denial

or:

severely plain (without decoration)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
avarice
2 uses
Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
avarice = excessive desire for wealth
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
benevolent
3 uses
The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.
benevolence = kindness and goodwill
DefinitionGenerally benevolent means:
kind, generous, or charitable
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
complacent
3 uses
If ... you let the idea of "we Christians" drop out altogether and merely make him complacent about "his set", you will produce not true spiritual pride but mere social vanity
complacent = contented (unworried and satisfied)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
despair   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 9 uses
1  —5 uses as in:
she felt despair
The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it—all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.
despair = hopelessness
DefinitionGenerally this sense of despair means:
hopelessness; or distress (such as extreme worry or sadness from feeling powerless to change a bad situation)
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
2  —4 uses as in:
do not despair
But I fear ... he knows that Despair is a greater sin than any of the sins which provoke it.
despair = giving up hope
DefinitionGenerally this sense of despair means:
to lose hope
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
doctrine
8 uses
The real fun is working up hatred between ... [them] when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes.
doctrine = beliefs
DefinitionGenerally doctrine means:
a belief (or system of beliefs or principles) accepted as authoritative by some group
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 16
Web Links
establish   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
establish a positive tone
Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken.†
established = set (existing firmly)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
create, start, or set in [a] place
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library25 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
establish that there is a need
The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "Real" while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist.†
established = accepted as true
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
show or determine (cause to be recognized or figure out)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 30
Web Links
glutton
7 uses
This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess.
gluttony = an instance or habit of doing more of something than is good
DefinitionGenerally glutton means:
someone who consumes more than they should — especially eating and drinking too much

The expression:  "a glutton for punishment" refers to someone who persist in some activity despite negative consequences (as though loving the punishment)

The expression: "a glutton for whatever" refers to people who like whatever a lot — such that "a glutton for sunshine" loves sunshine.
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
induce
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
induce her to
The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered.
induced = persuaded
DefinitionGenerally this sense of induce means:
to persuade somebody to do something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 21
Web Links
inhibit
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
inhibited the growth of...
All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, "I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked".†
inhibited = limited or prevented
DefinitionGenerally this sense of inhibit means:
to limit the activity of someone or something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
malicious
5 uses
The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.
malice = evil; or wanting to see others suffer
DefinitionGenerally malicious means:
wanting to see others suffer; or threatening evil
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
mitigate
2 uses
Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless.
mitigated = made less harmful (in this case, less harmful to the objective of "free will")
DefinitionGenerally mitigate means:
make less harmful or unpleasant
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
pedantic
2 uses
The man who has risen in society is overrefined, the young scholar is pedantic.
pedantic = too concerned with book learning
DefinitionGenerally pedantic means:
too concerned with formal rules, details, or book learning
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 21
Web Links
phenomenon
7 uses
The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
phenomenon = thing that exists
DefinitionGenerally phenomenon means:
something that exists or happened — especially something of special interest — sometimes someone or something that is extraordinary
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
render
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
rendered her unconscious
we thus aggravate the female's chronic horror of growing old ... and render her less willing and less able to bear children.
render = make
DefinitionGenerally this sense of render means:
to make or cause to become
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
subtle   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
a subtle poison
But even if He defeats your first attempt at misdirection, we have a subtler weapon.
subtler = more indirect or non-obvious thing or manner that harms
DefinitionGenerally this sense of subtle means:
working in an indirect or hidden way
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
a subtle difference or thinker
There is a subtle play of looks and tones and laughs by which a Mortal can imply that he is of the same party is those to whom he is speaking.
subtle = slightly noticeable
DefinitionGenerally this sense of subtle means:
not obvious, but understandable by someone with adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps depending upon fine distinctions)

or:

capable of understanding things that require sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps understanding fine distinctions)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
undulate
5 uses
If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down.
undulation = wave-like movement

(editor's note:  The suffix "-tion", converts a verb into a noun that denotes the action or result of the verb. Typically, there is a slight change in the ending of the root verb, as in action, education, and observation.)
DefinitionGenerally undulate means:
a smooth wave-like motion (physical or auditory)

or:

having a wavy or rippled form or surface
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 8
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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