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Do You Speak American?

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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adapt
6 uses
1  —6 uses as in:
adapted to the new rules
To communicate all of this, American language adapts.†
adapts = changes to fit a different situation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of adapt means:
changed to fit a different situation; or made suitable
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useIntr.
Web Links
annex
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
annexed the community
Sam Houston was elected president, and a struggle began for annexation by the United States, an idea resisted by antislavery forces in the U.S. Congress.
annexation = the process of taking territory

(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 this sense of annex means:
to take territory and make it part of a larger territory — such as a city making land outside of it a part of the city
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
assimilate
17 uses
Many authorities claimed that the nation could no longer assimilate immigrants in such numbers as in the past.†
assimilate = take in, transform, or fit in
DefinitionGenerally assimilate means:
take in, transform, or fit in
The exact meaning of assimilate can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "assimilate to a new country" — fitting into a prevailing culture
  • "assimilate the information" — transform information within the mind into understanding
  • "assimilate the food" — transform nutrients within the body for its use
Word Statistics
Book17 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useIntr.
Web Links
contrast   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 4 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
contrast their writing styles
In contrast to this, dialects in some island communities are getting stronger and more distinctive, because they have not been overrun by dingbatters.†
in contrast = in a comparison that shows differences
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrast means:
point to differences between; or compare to show differences
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
there is a contrast
The contrast between the vowels is maintained, however, because that neighboring vowel also shifts.†
contrast = notable difference
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrast means:
a difference — especially a notable difference; or the side-x-side arrangement of things that draws attention to an unmissable difference
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
defer
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
deferred to her wishes
We are obsessed with youth and defer to its tastes, and the language shows that.
defer = submit (our judgment to its)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
submit or yield (typically to another person's opinion because of respect for that person or their knowledge)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
diversity
11 uses
Paradoxically, the truth seems to be that, where change occurs, it is often creating more diversity, not less.†
diversity = the condition of variety — especially in reference to members of a population group who are of different races or cultures
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
elaborate
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
elaborate on your plan
Labov's theory has been elaborated in the research of Stanford University linguist Penelope Eckert, who studied language changes originating among high-school students in a predominantly white suburb of Detroit.†
elaborated = added details or explained in detail
DefinitionGenerally this sense of elaborate means:
add details or explain in detail
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
establish
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
establish a positive tone
In Philadelphia, Labov identified a particular type of woman, working-class, well established in her community, who took pleasure in being nonconformist and was strong enough to influence others.†
established = set with a good reputation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
create, start, or set in [a] place
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library25 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
highlight
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
highlight the main findings
In another ("They put like this bandage stuff around it"), like served "to highlight the introduction of new entities into discourse."†
highlight = emphasize (call attention to)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of highlight means:
emphasize (call attention to something)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
illustrate
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
as illustrated by this example
") There, Levy says, like is not intended to introduce a literal, verbatim quotation, but an illustrative example, letting her "offer a stereotypical response for her brother."†
illustrative = serving to help explain or demonstrate something

(editor's note:  The suffix "-ive" converts a word into an adjective; though over time, what was originally an adjective often comes to be used as a noun. The adjective pattern means tending to and is seen in words like attractive, impressive, and supportive. Examples of the noun include narrative, alternative, and detective.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of illustrate means:
to help make clear — typically by example
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
irony
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
situational irony
Then came President Bush, a scion of the East Coast establishment, ironically using a folksy Texas version of talkin' country as part of his political persona and winning in states far beyond the South.
ironically = in a manner indicating that what happened was very different than what might have been 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
Book2 uses
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
linguist
85 uses
Linguists would challenge Prince Charles on two grounds: First, the concept of "words that shouldn't be" is alien to the freedom inherent in English.†
linguists = language specialists
DefinitionGenerally linguist means:
a specialist in the study of language

or:

a person who is skilled in multiple languages
Word Statistics
Book85 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
linguistic
45 uses
He believes that coming to a language late can be an advantage, because one brings better credentials, linguistic, cultural, and emotional.†
linguistic = related to language
Word Statistics
Book45 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useIntr.
Web Links
migrate
14 uses
In the 1720s, when they began migrating to America in large numbers, many landed in Philadelphia.†
migrating = moving from one place to another
DefinitionGenerally migrate means:
move from one place to another — sometimes seasonally
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
novel
1 use
To counter that, a search is under way for novel approaches, finding an "architecture" different from...†
novel = new and original
DefinitionGenerally this sense of novel means:
new and original — typically something considered good
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
phenomenon
6 uses
This phenomenon is so recent that linguists don't know how it will affect Black English—or white English in the South.†
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
Book6 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
positive
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
had a positive effect
That's the positive effect of political correctness.†
positive = good or beneficial
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
rebuttal
2 uses
This assault brought instant rebuttal.
rebuttal = argument in opposition
DefinitionGenerally rebuttal means:
a statement arguing against something
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
sic
1 use
Benjamin Franklin, whose print shop had published in German, wrote in 1751 that Pennsylvania "will in a few years become a German Colony: Instead of their learning our language, we must learn their's [sic], or live as in a foreign country."
sic = indicates that a word or phrase that looks incorrect, is as it should be
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
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