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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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clone   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 36 uses
1  —26 uses as in:
Can we clone it?
Can we clone her?
clone = make a genetically identical copy with technology
DefinitionGenerally this sense of clone means:
to make a copy of something — especially a genetically identical copy created with technology
Word Statistics
Book26 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePro.
Web Links
2  —10 uses as in:
It is a clone.
"There are no clones," I said.†
clones = genetically identical copies of an organism made with technology
DefinitionGenerally this sense of clone means:
a copy of something — especially an organism with identical genetics created through technology
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2.13
Web Links
direct   (4 meanings)
4 meanings, 27 uses
1  —9 uses as in:
directly above; or buy direct from
I also relied on both published and unpublished reflections by those directly involved in the controversy.†
directly = personally (without anything in between)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
straight (exactly where stated); or without involvement of anything in between
The exact meaning of this sense of direct is subject to its context. For example:
  • "The road runs directly to Las Vegas." — straight (without varying from a straight line)
  • "It was a direct hit." — exact
  • "The plant is in direct sunlight." — unobstructed (without anything in between)
  • "She wants a direct meeting with him." — personal (without other people in between)
  • "She paid direct attention to what he was reading." — close
  • "a direct gaze" — straight, steady, or focused—not a brief glance taken while generally looking at other things; not a sideways look
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library62 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1.10
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
directed her question to
I asked if he could direct me to Lacks Town, where I planned to look for mailboxes with the name Lacks on them, then knock on doors asking about Henrietta.†
direct = give directions to
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
to indicate direction; or to cause movement or focus in a direction or towards an object
The exact meaning of this sense of direct is subject to its context. For example:
  • "intentionally directed fire at unarmed civilians" — aimed a gun
  • "directed the question to her" — aimed a question
  • "directed her north" — pointed in a particular direction
  • "directed attention to the 3rd paragraph" — focused attention on a particular object
  • "The sound of her voice directed him to the kitchen." — guided or gave directions to someone to help them move to a particular place
  • "She directed him to the airport." — gave directions to send someone to a particular place
  • "She directed the boat north." — steered it
  • "directed the letter to" — send a letter to a particular person by putting a name and address on it
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library36 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1.10
Web Links
3  —1 use as in:
directed the jury to...
I direct you to provide accommodations for three or four hundred children of this class; you are also authorized to receive into this asylum, at your discretion, as belonging to such class, colored children who have lost one parent only, and in exceptional cases to receive colored children who are not orphans, but may be in such circumstances as to require the aid of charity.†
direct = instruct
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
give instructions or commands
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2.21
Web Links
4  —16 uses as in:
directed the movie
The man who discovered that fact was Walter Nelson-Rees, a chromosome expert who was director of cell culture at the Naval laboratory.†
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
Book16 uses
Library29 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2.13
Web Links
DNA
56 uses
her cancer—it came from a DNA mistake.
DNA = the molecule that contains the genetic code
DefinitionGenerally DNA means:
cell structures that transmit genetic information which determines inherited traits such as hair color or height
Word Statistics
Book56 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2.13
Web Links
establish   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 6 uses
1  —5 uses as in:
establish a positive tone
Y. Matsuya and H. Green, "Somatic Cell Hybrid Between the Established Human Line D98 (presumptive HeLa) and 3T3," Science 163, no. 3868 (February 14, 1969)†
established = existing
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
create, start, or set in [a] place
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library25 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useAft.
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
establish that there is a need
There, lawyers could use the Nuremberg Code to establish whether a scientist was acting within the ethical boundaries of the profession.†
establish = determine (figure out)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of establish means:
show or determine (cause to be recognized or figure out)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2.17
Web Links
focus   (4 meanings)
4 meanings, 11 uses
1  —7 uses as in:
Turn your focus to question #2.
Today, when the Lacks brothers talk about Henrietta, they focus on the importance of her contribution to science.†
focus = concentrate
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
Book7 uses
Library75 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 2.13
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
The focus of our study is...
And to be honest, the family wasn't really my focus.†
focus = place where attention was directed
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
where attention is concentrated or directed
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 3.26
Web Links
3  —1 use as in:
bring into focus; or out of focus
Christoph bent over the microscope to bring the cells into focus, and an image appeared on the screen that looked more like hazy green pond water than cells.†
focus = view (a state where something can be seen clearly)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
a state where something has come into view or can be seen clearly

(Typically this is said of the appearance of an image or picture, but it can also be said of something that get's attention, or of an understanding that become clear.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3.32
Web Links
4  —1 use as in:
The camera focuses automatically
Christoph taught Deborah and Zakariyya how to use the microscope, saying, "Look through like this ... take your glasses off... now turn this knob to focus."†
focus = adjust a lens for a sharp image
DefinitionGenerally this sense of focus means:
to adjust a lens to make an image clear
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3.32
Web Links
illustrate   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
as illustrated by this example
To illustrate this, Korn points to the Spanish flu pandemic.†
illustrate = help make clear
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 3.25
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
an illustrated children's book
"This is nice," she said, pointing to a large illustration that showed a group of men in various states of despair, holding their heads, lying on the floor, or huddling in corners.†
illustration = picture

(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 illustrate means:
to draw pictures (or provide photographs) to accompany a book or other writing
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3.33
Web Links
positive   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 7 uses
1  —1 use as in:
I'm absolutely positive!
When radium was first discovered in the late 1800s, headlines nationwide hailed it as "a substitute for gas, electricity, and a positive cure for every disease."†
positive = certain
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
certain (having no doubt; or used for emphasis)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library22 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1.3
Web Links
2  —6 uses as in:
The test came back positive.
Many of their cell lines tested positive, including the skin cells George Hyatt had transplanted onto a soldier's arm years earlier.†
positive = indicating that a condition was found
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
found a condition or substance to be present
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1.1
Web Links
ubiquitous
1 use
Along with it, for the first time, ran the now ubiquitous photograph of Henrietta standing with her hands on her hips.
ubiquitous = seen all the time
DefinitionGenerally ubiquitous means:
being present everywhere or all the time
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2.22
Web Links
vaccine
28 uses
the public grew desperate for a vaccine.
vaccine = a substance (such as weakened or dead disease-causing microorganism) injected into a person or animal to stimulate the production of antibodies to protect against a disease
DefinitionGenerally vaccine means:
a substance (such as weakened or dead a disease-causing microorganism) injected into a person or animal to stimulate the production of antibodies to protect against a disease
Word Statistics
Book28 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2.17
Web Links
virulent
3 uses
The sample didn't just test positive; it showed that Henrietta had been infected with multiple copies of HPV-18, which turned out to be one of the most virulent strains of the virus.
virulent = severely harmful
DefinitionGenerally virulent means:
of disease:  very bad — perhaps very contagious

or

harsh or hateful
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3.27
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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