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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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alacrity
1 use
The painful thing observable about all this business was the alacrity with which this oppressed community had turned their cruel hands against their own class in the interest of the common oppressor.
alacrity = quickness; and/or cheerful eagerness
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 30
Web Links
austere
4 uses
Of old time there lived there an abbot and his monks.  ...they gave themselves to study of pious books, and spoke not the one to the other, or indeed to any, and ate decayed herbs and ... slept hard, and prayed much, and ... came they to be known of all the world by reason of these holy austerities, and visited by rich and poor, and reverenced.
austerities = absences of basic comforts
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
Book4 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 21
Web Links
calamity
14 uses
Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun!
calamity = disastrous event
DefinitionGenerally calamity means:
a disastrous event; or the distress resulting from it
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
complacent
5 uses
I had just slipped up on poor smiling and complacent Dowley so nice and easy and softly, that he never suspected anything was going to happen till the blow came crashing down and knocked him all to rags.
complacent = contented (unworried and satisfied)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
condescending
6 uses
I picked out a man humble enough in life to condescend to talk with one so shabby as I, and got his account of the matter.
condescend = do something considered beneath one's position or dignity
DefinitionGenerally condescending means:
treating others as inferior; or doing something considered beneath one's position or dignity
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
consequence   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 19 uses
1  —13 uses as in:
a direct consequence of
Poor girl, her jaws had had a wearisome rest now for a while, and I was expecting to get the consequences.
consequences = results
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
a result of something (often an undesired side effect)
Word Statistics
Book13 uses
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
2  —6 uses as in:
of little consequence
It didn't cause me any trouble in the beginning—at least any of consequence.
consequence = importance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
importance or relevance
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
deride
4 uses
And it was fine to see that astonished multitude go down on their knees and beg their lives of the king they had just been deriding and insulting.
deriding = laughing at or making fun of—while showing a lack of respect
DefinitionGenerally deride means:
to criticize with strong disrespect — often
with humor
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 38
Web Links
discord
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
discordant music
Once I could have enjoyed it and seen nothing out of the way about it, but now its note was discordant.
discordant = unpleasant sound

(editor's note:  In this instance, Twain is not really talking about music, but is using music as a metaphor to describe something that seems out-of-place or wrong to him—like a musical note that doesn't sound right with the other notes.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of discord means:
unpleasant sound — especially a combination of sounds that sound wrong together (though sometimes done intentionally in music)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 26
Web Links
disdain
1 use
"Somehow it seems impossible for you to ever fully realize what these nobilities are.  Now let us save a little time and trouble. Consider me the commander of the knights yonder.  Now, then, you are the flag of truce; approach and deliver me your message..."

I humored the idea. ... For answer, Clarence ... said with lofty disdain: "Dismember me this animal, and return him in a basket to the base-born knave who sent him; other answer have I none!"
disdain = superiority and disrespect
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 43
Web Links
engender
1 use
But when I revealed to them the calamity in store, and saw how mighty was the terror it did engender, then saw I also that this was the time to strike!
engender = cause
DefinitionGenerally engender means:
cause — usually a feeling (possibly a situation)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
furtive
4 uses
Well, it was touching to see the queen blush and smile, and look embarrassed and happy, and fling furtive glances at Sir Launcelot that would have got him shot in Arkansas, to a dead certainty.
furtive = taking pains to avoid being observed
DefinitionGenerally furtive means:
taking pains to avoid being observed

or:

in a manner indicating nervousness (being cautious or appearing suspicious)
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
guile
2 uses
Mordred and Agravaine propose to call the guileless Arthur's attention to Guenever and Sir Launcelot.
guileless = innocent (in this case, so innocent, he is too trusting)

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-less" in guileless means without. This is the same pattern you see in words like fearless, homeless, and endless.)
DefinitionGenerally guile means:
cunning (shrewdness and cleverness) and deceitful
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
King Arthur
22 uses
Yes, I was in King Arthur's court, and I might as well make the most out of it I could.
King Arthur = mythical king of the Britons (English) who created the Knights of the Round Table to protect his people
DefinitionGenerally King Arthur means:
mythical king of the Britons (English) recognized as such when he was able to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone that had locked its blade; created the Knights of the Round Table to protect his people
Word Statistics
Book22 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st usePref.
Web Links
malicious
10 uses
She was loaded to the eyelids with cold malice.
malice = the desire to hurt others or see them suffer
DefinitionGenerally malicious means:
wanting to see others suffer; or threatening evil
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st usePref.
Web Links
pious
10 uses
1  —10 uses as in:
a good, pious woman
they gave themselves to study of pious books,
pious = religious
DefinitionGenerally this sense of pious means:
religious or highly moral
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
prodigious
12 uses
There was a prodigious roar of applause,
prodigious = enormous
DefinitionGenerally prodigious means:
enormous; or far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree
Word Statistics
Book12 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePref.
Web Links
redundant
1 use
And by hideous contrast, a redundant orator was making a speech to another gathering not thirty steps away, in fulsome laudation of "our glorious British liberties!"
redundant = more than is needed — especially repeating ideas
DefinitionGenerally redundant means:
more than is needed — often something that is unnecessarily repeated

or in technical usage:  a secondary component designed to work if the primary component fails; or of such a system
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 34
Web Links
trifle
14 uses
1  —14 uses as in:
a trifling matter
The door stood a trifle ajar.
trifle = little
DefinitionGenerally this sense of trifle means:
something of small importance; or a small quantity
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
zeal
5 uses
This man had been out helping to hang his neighbors, and had done his work with zeal,
zeal = enthusiasm
DefinitionGenerally zeal means:
active interest and enthusiasm
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 17
Web Links
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