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Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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belittle
1 use
Others were so full of themselves that they'd belittle their partners.
belittle = make them seem less important
DefinitionGenerally belittle means:
to make someone or something seem less important
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 5
Web Links
bereft
1 use
Yes, I felt stunned and bereft for myself and especially for Jai, who couldn't stop crying.
bereft = full of sorrow because of loss
DefinitionGenerally bereft means:
lacking something that is desired

or:

suffered great sadness because of loss or lack of something expected or strongly desired

or:

deprived (taken away something that is desired)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 3
Web Links
cliché
13 uses
Educators shouldn't be afraid of clichés.
clichés = expressions that lack impact because they are heard so often
DefinitionGenerally cliché means:
an expression that lacks impact because it is heard so often
Word Statistics
Book13 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 5
Web Links
defer
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
deferred to her wishes
I had made a pledge to myself to defer to Jai and honor her wishes.
defer = submit my wishes to those of
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 usePart 1
Web Links
diagnose
11 uses
She knew that my cancer diagnosis was grim.
diagnosis = identification (as in identifying an illness)
DefinitionGenerally diagnose means:
determine or identify the nature of a problem or an illness
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 1
Web Links
direct   (3 meanings)
3 meanings, 12 uses
1  —1 use as in:
depart directly
I used to tell anyone who worked in my research group: "You don't ever have to worry about what I'm thinking. Good or bad, I'll let you know what's in my head." That meant when I wasn't happy about something, I spoke up, often directly and not always tactfully.†
directly = immediately
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
without delay, or in the quickest manner, or without going somewhere else first
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 5
Web Links
2  —7 uses as in:
was direct in my instructions
I have a direct answer for that.†
direct = straightforward (specific and clear)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straightforward (uncomplicated or simple — perhaps also indicating openness and honesty)
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 3
Web Links
3  —4 uses as in:
directed the movie
The note hadn't been sent to me, my co-director Don Marinelli, or any other faculty member.†
director = supervisor (person in charge)

(editor's note:  The suffix "-or" often converts a verb to a noun that means "a person who."  This is the pattern you see in words like actor, editor, and visitor.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
supervise, control, or to be in charge of
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library29 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 4
Web Links
dissonance
1 use
At Magee, they did a wonderful job of simultaneously communicating two dissonant things. In so many words, they told parents that (1) Your child is special and we understand that his medical needs are unique, and (2) Don't worry, we've had a million babies like yours come through here.
dissonant = conflicting (not going well together)
DefinitionGenerally dissonance means:
not going well together; or conflict
especially in these two senses:
  • unpleasant musical sound
  • inconsistency or conflict between beliefs and actions such as voluntarily taking actions that conflict with beliefs, or holding two conflicting beliefs (also called "cognitive dissonance")
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 3
Web Links
focus   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 16 uses
1  —15 uses as in:
Turn your focus to question #2.
We've gotten through in part by focusing on the tasks at hand.†
focusing = concentrating
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
verb: to concentrate, look at, or pay attention to

noun: the act of concentration, or the ability to concentrate

(to concentrate is to direct attention or effort towards a single thing)
Word Statistics
Book15 uses
Library75 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 6
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
The focus of our study is...
In fact, over time, my bedroom became the focal point of her house tour when anyone came to visit.†
focal = place where attention is concentrated
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
where attention is concentrated or directed
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 2
Web Links
hypothesis
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a study to test her hypothesis
And so I asked lots of data-seeking questions, and found myself hypothesizing along with my doctors.†
hypothesizing = proposing reasonable, but unproven, ideas

(editor's note:  The suffix "-ive" converts a word to a verb. This is the same pattern you see in words like apologize, theorize, and dramatize.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of hypothesis means:
a seemingly reasonable, but unproven idea or explanation based upon known facts
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 3
Web Links
negative   (3 meanings)
3 meanings, 5 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
had a negative effect
I originally called it "The Best Failure Award," but failure has so many negative connotations that students couldn't get past the word itself.†
negative = bad
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
bad or harmful
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 3
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
negative feedback from customers
Their bosses almost never had anything negative to say about their abilities or their technical chops.†
negative = critical
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
to express criticism or disagreement, or (especially when talking over a radio or in a military setting) to say "no"
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 5
Web Links
3  —1 use as in:
a negative attitude
Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I'm a great optimist. But when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst-case scenario.†
negatively = in a pessimistic manner
DefinitionGenerally this sense of negative means:
pessimistic (emphasizing bad things) or disagreeable
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 5
Web Links
optimistic
15 uses
At the time, I already had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but I was optimistic.
optimistic = expecting the best; or focusing on the good part of things
Word Statistics
Book15 uses
Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st usePart 1
Web Links
parody
3 uses
"Hip" people love parodies.
parodies = humorous imitations of things done to mock or make fun of them
DefinitionGenerally parody means:
imitation of somebody's style in a humorous way

or:

a very poor imitation of somebody's style
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 5
Web Links
positive   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 8 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
had a positive effect
But on the positive side, I was able to reassure people: "If I haven't said anything, you have nothing to worry about."†
positive = good or beneficial
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st usePart 3
Web Links
2  —6 uses as in:
a positive attitude
He's just this phenomenal ball of positive energy; completely physical and gregarious.†
positive = optimistic (focusing on good things)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
optimistic (expecting or focusing good things); or agreeable
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePart 3
Web Links
relevant
1 use
He asked me why he should be reconsidering my application, given that the department had already evaluated me. ... "It's just that they only awarded fifteen of these fellowships nationwide, so I thought it an honor that would be 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 usePart 5
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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