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The Guardian

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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altercation
5 uses
Officer Romanello hadn't believed his account about the altercation in the bar.
altercation = fight
DefinitionGenerally altercation means:
a noisy argument, confrontation, or fight
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 27
Web Links
consummate
2 uses
He was the consummate handyman, a veritable knight in shining armor when puddles formed beneath kitchen sinks or when garbage disposals went on the blink.
consummate = perfect
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consummate means:
perfect and complete in every respect; or having a quality to an extreme degree
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
contrite
2 uses
He smiled, looking contrite, a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
contrite = feeling sorrow or regret for a fault or offense
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 11
Web Links
cryptic
2 uses
A guy named Jake Blansen came in and said some cryptic things about Richard.
cryptic = difficult to understand
DefinitionGenerally cryptic means:
secretive or difficult to understand
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
diligent
1 use
Culling the professional association lists by using the Internet had been tedious and time-consuming, but he'd stayed at it, diligent in his pursuit, looking for exactly the right man as he'd moved from one town to the next.
diligent = with hard work and care
DefinitionGenerally this sense of diligent means:
hard work and care in tasks — often continuing when others might quit because of difficulties
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 37
Web Links
disdain
1 use
He was a man by then, but when he saw Richard he froze; Richard simply smiled and kept on walking, remembering with disdain the cut he'd so easily inflicted upon himself.
disdain = 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 21
Web Links
dubious
1 use
Officer Pete Gandy was sitting at the kitchen table, looking across at them, not bothering to hide the dubious expression on his face.
dubious = doubtful or suspicious
DefinitionGenerally dubious means:
doubtful
in various senses, including:
  • doubtful that something should be relied upon — as in "The argument relies on a dubious assumption."
  • doubtful that something is morally proper — as in "The company is accused of using dubious sales practices to influence minors."
  • bad or of questionable value — as in "The state has the dubious distinction of the highest taxes."
  • doubtful or uncertain — as in "She is dubious about making the change."
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 32
Web Links
eccentric
2 uses
But Mabel put the capital E in eccentric, especially in this small, conservative southern town, and it wasn't simply because she had a couple of harmless quirks.
eccentric = unconventional or strange
DefinitionGenerally eccentric means:
unconventional or strange; or a person with such traits
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
gist
1 use
...she caught the gist of what went on.
gist = the main point(s) of a more detailed matter
DefinitionGenerally gist means:
the main point(s) of a more detailed matter

or:

law:  the grounds for a legal action
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 27
Web Links
highlight
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
highlights of the year
None of it was familiar, and for a few hours she'd felt as if she'd suddenly slipped into an alternate universe in which she wasn't a hairdresser in a small southern town, the kind of gal whose highlight of the week was usually something as mundane as removing a stubborn ring from around the tub.†
highlight = best part
DefinitionGenerally this sense of highlight means:
something that stands out
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 9
implication
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
the implication is that...
She halted for a moment, considering the question, before realizing the implications of what she was thinking.
implications = things that logically follow from
DefinitionGenerally this sense of implication means:
Something that follows from something else.
The thing that follows could be:
  • something suggested indirectly (not said directly)
  • something that can be concluded (often a logical consequence)
  • something that results from something else
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
imply
6 uses
Though everything she had said was absolutely true, when she looked at Pete again, his expression confirmed that Richard had already implied something different.
implied = said indirectly
DefinitionGenerally imply means:
to suggest or say indirectly — possibly as a logical consequence
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
indifferent
1 use
Singer, sitting on his haunches, began scratching with his back leg, as if demonstrating his indifference to what either of them was saying.
indifference = unconcern (lack of interest)
DefinitionGenerally indifferent means:
without interest
in various senses, including:
  • unconcerned — as in "She is indifferent to what is served to eat."
  • unsympathetic — as in "She is indifferent to his needs."
  • not of good quality (which may imply average or poor quality depending upon context) — as in "an indifferent performance"
  • impartial — as in "We need a judge who is indifferent."
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
lethargic
3 uses
He helped her up from the bed, ignoring the lethargy of her movements, and put his arms around her.
lethargy = lack of energy
DefinitionGenerally lethargic means:
lacking energy
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePro.
Web Links
nonchalant
3 uses
The whole thing made her practically sick to her stomach, especially with Julie's oh-so-nonchalant attitude about the whole thing.
nonchalant = unconcerned
DefinitionGenerally nonchalant means:
calm in manner — appearing unconcerned
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
relevant
1 use
...but he didn't think it was relevant.
relevant = relating in a meaningful way to the issue in question
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 28
Web Links
skeptical
5 uses
As if that's going to be possible, the little voice inside her said skeptically.
skeptically = with doubt (regarding the truth of something)
DefinitionGenerally skeptical means:
doubtful (that something is true or worthwhile)

or more rarely:

generally tending to doubt what others believe
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
subtle
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a subtle difference or thinker
He noticed the subtle differences as she changed before his eyes.
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 23
Web Links
tentative
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
said it tentatively
Julie stepped forward tentatively, and when Mike didn't back away, she came closer and leaned into him.
tentatively = in an unsure or hesitant manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of tentative means:
done in a careful or unsure way (indicating a lack of confidence in exactly what will happen)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 33
Web Links
tirade
2 uses
More than anything, she wanted to give Richard a verbal lashing in public, the kind of high-volume tirade that included pointed forefingers being poked into his chest.
tirade = speech of angry criticism
DefinitionGenerally tirade means:
a speech of angry criticism
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
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