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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
admonish
1 use
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law,
admonish = advise
DefinitionGenerally admonish means:
to express disapproval to someone of their actions; or to warn or advise someone
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
Web Links
advocate
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
to advocate
How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?
advocate = publicly support
DefinitionGenerally this sense of advocate means:
to recommend or publicly support (someone or something)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
commend
6 uses
I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
commend = praised
DefinitionGenerally commend means:
praise or recommend
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
complacent
3 uses
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist.
complacent = contented (satisfied and unconcerned)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
condemn
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
She condemned their plan
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence.
condemned = strongly criticized

(editor's note:  In this context, precipitate is a synonym for cause.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of condemn means:
express strong criticism
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
conform
1 use
some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom.
conformity = complying with the majority (fitting in)
DefinitionGenerally conform means:
to comply, fit in, or be similar to what is normal
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
deplore
1 use
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham.
deplore = strongly disapprove of
DefinitionGenerally deplore means:
strongly dislike or regret
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
diligent
1 use
Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, ...
diligently = 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
Web Links
discriminate
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
suffered discrimination
Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, ...
discrimination = unfair treatment due to race

(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 discriminate means:
to treat people of different groups differently — especially unfair treatment due to race, religion or gender
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
Web Links
eloquent
1 use
...have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms.
eloquent = a manner that uses language powerfully
DefinitionGenerally eloquent means:
powerful use of language
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
emulate
1 use
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist.
emulate = imitate (copy)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
futile
1 use
I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation.
futility = pointlessness (uselessness)
DefinitionGenerally futile means:
effort that is pointless because it is unproductive or unsuccessful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
gospel   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
gospel of the Bible
They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake.
gospel = the religious teachings of Jesus
DefinitionGenerally this sense of gospel means:
the religious teachings of Jesus

or:

one of the four books in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that Christian's believe tell the story of Jesus Christ's life and teachings
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
they consider it gospel
I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.
gospel = a set of beliefs firmly held by a group
DefinitionGenerally this sense of gospel means:
a set of beliefs firmly held by a group

or:

an unquestionable truth
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
grave
1 use
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.
gravely = seriously
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
objective
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
an objective viewpoint
Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal,...
objective = fact-based and not influenced by personal feelings or preferences
DefinitionGenerally this sense of objective means:
fact-based without the influence of personal feelings or preferences
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
oppress
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
oppressive government
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor;
oppressor = one who denies equal rights to others
DefinitionGenerally this sense of oppress means:
to dominate harshly and unfairly; or to make suffer
The meaning of oppress depends upon its context. For example:
  • "The authorities oppress political activists," or "The new nation oppressed Native Americans." — to dominate harshly and unfairly
  • "She is oppressed by excessive debt." - made to suffer
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
pious
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a good, pious woman
In the midst of blatant injustices ..., I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.
pious = religious
DefinitionGenerally this sense of pious means:
religious or highly moral
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
precipitate
1 use
1  —1 use
(verb) as in: it could precipitate war
it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence.
precipitate = lead to (make it happen quickly)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of precipitate means:
make something happen or to fall or move — typically suddenly and often of something undesired
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
Web Links
superficial
1 use
I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.
superficial = relating to a surface rather than to anything deep or penetrating
DefinitionGenerally superficial means:
relating to a surface rather than to anything deep or penetrating (often of injuries or thinking)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
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