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The Lovely Bones

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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acute   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
acute pain
Ruth had to be driven to the symposium because that morning, when the bus was leaving, she was still at home with an acute attack of gastritis.
acute = severe (with rapid onset)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of acute means:
sharp (severe or strong) — usually negative
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
acute sense of smell
The dead are never exactly seen by the living, but many people seem acutely aware of something changed around them.
acutely = highly (in a manner showing high perceptiveness)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of acute means:
sharp (highly perceptive in some area or mentally sharp)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
attribute
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
I attribute it to...
What they found when Mr. Harvey answered his door was a man who was tearfully upset and who in every aspect, save a certain repellent quality that the officers attributed to the sight of a man allowing himself to cry, seemed to be responding rationally to the reported events.
attributed = credited (pointed to as the cause of something)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of attribute means:
to credit (a source for something)
in two typical senses:
  • "I attribute it to her work." — to say who or what made something happen
  • "Remember to attribute any quotations in your paper." — indicate the source of a quotation or idea
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
contrast
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
contrast their writing styles
Her skin was darker now, which made her pale blue eyes seem even bluer in contrast, and she had taken to wearing her hair in a loose ponytail at the base of her neck.
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
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
debase
1 use
At Fairfax Brian and Clarissa clung to each other, exploiting what had happened to them, using my father's debasement as a varnish of cool they could coat themselves with by retelling throughout the school what had happened that night in the cornfield.
debasement = degradation (treatment as though of less value)
DefinitionGenerally debase means:
to degrade (decrease) the purity, quality, or status of something — often morality or metals
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
distend
1 use
Pitbulls rolled on their backs, the nipples of the females distended and dark, begging for their pups to come and suckle them, happy in the sun.
distended = extended or swollen
DefinitionGenerally distend means:
to extend — especially the swelling outward of a part of the body; e.g., the stomach
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
fastidious
1 use
He knew to watch the weather and to kill during an arc of light-to-heavy precipitation because that would rob the police of evidence. But he was not as fastidious as the police liked to think. He forgot...
fastidious = careful about details
DefinitionGenerally fastidious means:
giving careful attention to detail

or:

excessively concerned with cleanliness or matters of taste
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
gesticulate
1 use
She watched her daughter gesticulating with the long thin fingers of her hands—hands she had inherited from her father.
gesticulating = making gestures while speaking or to express something
DefinitionGenerally gesticulate means:
to make gestures (hand or body movements) while speaking or to express something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
highlight   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
highlight the main findings
The blush highlighted the hollows beneath her cheekbones ("The hollows that could stand some more hollowing," our grandmother pointed out).†
highlighted = emphasized (called 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 9
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
highlights with a yellow marker
They smoked cigarettes and looked at each other as if they had suddenly and without preparation moved on to a new page, where the pressing business had already been highlighted for prompt attention.†
highlighted = marked as important
DefinitionGenerally this sense of highlight means:
to mark important text; or the text that is marked — typically marked using a felt-tip pen with a bright, transparent ink in order to reinforce memory and assist later review
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
ostentatious
1 use
My father would sit in the old iron lawn chair with his leg stretched out in front of him and propped up slightly on an ostentatious boot scraper that Grandma Lynn had found in a curio shop in Maryland.
ostentatious = intended to attract notice and impress others
DefinitionGenerally ostentatious means:
intended to attract notice and impress others — especially with wealth in a vulgar way
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
passage
1 use
In his study during the long nights after my mother left, my father would try to lose himself by rereading passages from the Civil War letters of Mary Chestnut to her husband.†
passages = short parts of longer written works
DefinitionGenerally this sense of passage means:
a short part of a longer written work
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 16
Web Links
petulant
3 uses
"Don't be petulant," my father said.
petulant = unreasonably annoyed or upset
DefinitionGenerally petulant means:
unreasonably annoyed or upset

or:

easily annoyed or upset
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
phenomenon
1 use
Besides the initial view that you might suspect, the old ants-from-the-skyscraper phenomenon, there were souls leaving bodies all over the world.†
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
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
pragmatic
2 uses
The pragmatic, prim mistress that my mother had always been was gone.
pragmatic = concerned with practical matters
DefinitionGenerally pragmatic means:
concerned with practical matters — especially where quick results and/or practical experience triumph over theory
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
preoccupied
5 uses
They seemed to be preoccupied, and he wished he could reach up and grab them and train them on the here and now.
preoccupied = took up the attention of
DefinitionGenerally preoccupied means:
busy thinking about or doing something so that other things are not noticed or done
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 16
Web Links
simultaneous
5 uses
It was the sensation of being simultaneously resurrected and buried within the same breath.
simultaneously = at the same time
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
ubiquitous
1 use
After eight years it was, even for my mother, like the ubiquitous photo of a celebrity.
ubiquitous = being present everywhere or all the time
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
yield   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
will yield valuable data
My sister told herself that she was inside a series of rooms and spaces that, gone through methodically, might yield what she needed, provide her the trophy she could take home to our father, earning her freedom from me that way.†
yield = provide
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to produce (usually something wanted); or the thing or amount produced
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 14
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
yield to pressure
I pushed and pushed against the unyielding borders of my heaven.†
unyielding = unmovable

(editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unyielding means not and reverses the meaning of yielding. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to give in, give way, or give up
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 11
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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