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The Poisonwood Bible

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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baptism
28 uses
My own baptism, and every one I have witnessed so far, took place in something like a large bathtub or small swimming pool in the Baptist Church.
baptism = a Christian ceremony signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth
DefinitionGenerally baptism means:
a Christian ceremony signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth

or:

a challenging experience that initiates or purifies
Word Statistics
Book28 uses
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
belligerent
2 uses
But I imagine Father was belligerent about it.
belligerent = hostile (had an attitude of one eager to fight)
DefinitionGenerally belligerent means:
hostile (the attitude of one eager to fight); or one already engaged in a fight or war
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
congregation
1 use
He turned toward the congregation with the air of a preacher himself.
congregation = people who worship together in the same building
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
consequence   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 11 uses
1  —7 uses as in:
a direct consequence of
She fails to see that Anatole is breaking rules for her, and this will have consequences.
consequences = results (unintended side-effects)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
a result of something (often an undesired side effect)
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
2  —4 uses as in:
of little consequence
I guess that is about as consequential as it gets.
consequential = important
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
importance or relevance
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
direct   (4 meanings)
4 meanings, 10 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
depart directly
My sisters all seemed determined to fly, or in Rachel's case, to ascend to heaven directly through a superior mind-set, but my way was slowly and surely to walk.†
directly = immediately
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
without delay, or in the quickest manner, or without going somewhere else first
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
2  —5 uses as in:
directly above; or buy direct from
Tata Ndu turned directly to Father and spoke to him in surprisingly careful English, rolling his r's, placing every syllable like a stone in a hand.†
directly = straight (exactly where stated; used for emphasis)
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
Book5 uses
Library62 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
3  —2 uses as in:
directed her question to
He directed his stride toward the river.†
directed = steered
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
Book2 uses
Library36 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
4  —1 use as in:
directed the jury to...
That was his domain, and he directed us all in the planting of useful foods, all to the Glory of God and so forth.†
directed = instructed
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 5
Web Links
doleful
1 use
Even that most doleful of Christian laments—"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen"—sounded snappy and upbeat through these women's windpipes as they sauntered along:
doleful = full of sadness
DefinitionGenerally doleful means:
expressing or causing sadness
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
focus   (3 meanings)
3 meanings, 8 uses
1  —5 uses as in:
Turn your focus to question #2.
You focus on getting your own one little place set up perfect, as I have done, and you'll see.†
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
Book5 uses
Library75 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
2  —2 uses as in:
The focus of our study is...
He said he needed a focal point to get the church geared up.†
focal = area where attention is concentrated
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 1
Web Links
3  —1 use as in:
The camera focuses automatically
But the picture is so small I have to hold it practically at the end of my nose to make out who is who. It hurts my eyes to focus on it, so mostly it stays in the drawer.†
focus = adjust vision to see something clearly
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 5
Web Links
forbearance
3 uses
I'm sure the Congolese heard it every day for a hundred years while they had to forbear the Belgians.
forbear = tolerate; or refrain from acting
DefinitionGenerally forbearance means:
refraining (holding back) from acting

or:

patience, tolerance, or self-control
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
illustrate
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
as illustrated by this example
Then he handed me the hoe and held his hands out from his sides, palms up, to illustrate the heavenly balancing act.†
illustrate = help make clear
DefinitionGenerally this sense of illustrate means:
to help make clear — typically by example
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
latent
1 use
In addition to papism, the Reverend probably suspected this noisy creature of latent femaleness.
latent = potentially existing but not presently evident or active
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
malaria
24 uses
Malaria is our enemy number one.
malaria = a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes that, while nonexistent in wealthy nations, strikes hundreds of millions of people a year in developing nations — killing over a million each year

more technically:  an infective disease caused by sporozoan parasites that are transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito; marked by paroxysms of chills and fever
Word Statistics
Book24 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
parable
15 uses
My father mopped his brow again and launched into the parable of the one mustard seed falling on a barren place, and the other one on good soil.
parable = a short story told to teach a moral lesson — especially those told by Jesus in the New Testament
Word Statistics
Book15 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
penitent
1 use
As it turns out, though, betrayal can also breed penitents, shrewd minor politicians, and ghosts.
penitents = people expressing sorrow for having done wrong
DefinitionGenerally penitent means:
feeling or expressing sorrow for having done wrong; or a person who does such
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
positive
9 uses
1  —8 uses as in:
I'm absolutely positive!
We argued about positively everything: even communism!†
positively = absolutely (used for emphasis)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of positive means:
certain (having no doubt; or used for emphasis)
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library22 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
unquizzed meaning  —1 use
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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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