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Billy Budd

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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alacrity
2 uses
This heightened alacrity had its cause, namely, the impression made upon him by the first formal gangway-punishment he had ever witnessed, which befell the day following his impressment.
alacrity = liveliness and eagerness (in this context, Billy Budd's eagerness to quickly do his duty)
DefinitionGenerally alacrity means:
quickness; and/or cheerful eagerness
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
arbitrary
4 uses
At the time of Billy Budd's arbitrary enlistment into the Indomitable that ship was on her way to join the Mediterranean fleet.
arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
DefinitionGenerally arbitrary means:
based on chance or impulse (rather than upon reasoning, consistent rules, or a proper sense of fairness)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
ascetic
1 use
However it was, the Dansker in his ascetic way rather took to Billy.
ascetic = severely plain (without decoration)

(editor's note:  This is a less common sense of the adjective which more commonly refers to someone who practices self-denial. Dansker is seldom used in contemporary writing. It is a synonym for Dane or someone from Denmark.)
DefinitionGenerally ascetic means:
someone who practices self-denial (often to encourage spiritual growth); or relating to such self-denial

or:

severely plain (without decoration)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 9
Web Links
austere
3 uses
The austere devotee of military duty,
austere = having stern demeanor; or practicing great self-denial
DefinitionGenerally austere means:
a notable absence of luxury, comfort, or decoration

or:

of a person:  stern in manner; or practicing great self-denial
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 28
Web Links
candid
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
your candid opinion
Such an episode in the Island's grand naval story her naval historians naturally abridge; one of them (G.P.R. James) candidly acknowledging that...
candidly = with honesty and directness

(editor's note:  In this context, abridge means "leave out of the history".)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of candid means:
honest and direct
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
capacious
1 use
...the watch below came pouring, overspreading with the watch already on deck the space between the main-mast and fore-mast including that occupied by the capacious launch and the...
capacious = large in capacity

(editor's note:  In this context, a launch is a boat that is available for use and on the deck of a large ship.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
condemn
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
was condemned to life in prison
...had been already tried by a summary court and condemned to death;
condemned = legally sentenced someone to punishment
DefinitionGenerally this sense of condemn means:
force into an undesired activity or situation — such as to legally sentence someone to punishment

or:

find guilty — especially in court (and sometimes to death)

or:

provide the means of finding guilty
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 23
Web Links
deference
5 uses
No sooner did the Commander observe who it was that deferentially stood awaiting his notice, than a peculiar expression came over him.
deferentially = with polite respect
DefinitionGenerally deference means:
polite respect — often when submitting to another's wishes
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
depravity
7 uses
The enormity of the crime and the extreme depravity of the criminal, appear the greater in view of the character of the victim,
depravity = immorality or evilness
DefinitionGenerally depravity means:
complete immorality or evilness
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 11
Web Links
disdain
2 uses
disdain of innocence.
disdain = lack of respect (as though it is inferior)
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
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
dubious
5 uses
...his feeling partook less of intuitional conviction than of strong suspicion clogged by strange dubieties.
dubieties = things that are doubtful
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
Book5 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
engender
1 use
...not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or...
engendered = caused
DefinitionGenerally engender means:
cause — usually a feeling (possibly a situation)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 11
Web Links
mitigate
3 uses
Can we not convict and yet mitigate the penalty?
mitigate = make less harmful or unpleasant
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
obscure   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 9 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
it obscured my view
There was no moon as yet; a haze obscured the star-light.
obscured = made less visible
DefinitionGenerally this sense of obscure means:
to block from view or make less visible or understandable
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 21
Web Links
2  —7 uses as in:
the view or directions are obscure
Coke and Blackstone hardly shed so much light into obscure spiritual places as the Hebrew prophets.
obscure = difficult to understand
DefinitionGenerally this sense of obscure means:
not clearly seen, understood, or expressed
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
pedantic
2 uses
This, along with his phraseology, now and then was suggestive of the grounds whereon rested that imputation of a certain pedantry socially alleged against him by certain naval men of wholly practical cast,
pedantry = being too concerned with formal rules, details, or book learning
DefinitionGenerally pedantic means:
too concerned with formal rules, details, or book learning
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
prudent
1 use
... the prudent Surgeon nevertheless held his peace,
prudent = sensible and careful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
refute
2 uses
In this instance as in so many other instances in these days, the character of this unfortunate man signally refutes ... that peevish saying attributed to the late Dr. Johnson, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
refutes = disproves (shows that something is false)
DefinitionGenerally refute means:
to disprove or argue against
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 29
Web Links
sagacious
2 uses
...he will direct a cool judgment sagacious and sound.
sagacious = wise
DefinitionGenerally sagacious means:
wise — especially through long experience and thoughtfulness
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
spontaneous
7 uses
...with the off-hand unaffectedness of natural regality, he seemed to accept the spontaneous homage of his shipmates.
spontaneous = natural (happening or arising without plan)
DefinitionGenerally spontaneous means:
behaving in an instinctive, uninhibited manner

or:

happening naturally (without planning or external force)
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
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