toggle menu
menu
vocabulary
1000+ books
Book Menu

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
abstract   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
abstract thought
MARTHA: [comparing the subject of biology to that of math] ... Biology's even better. It's less . . . abstruse.
GEORGE: Abstract.
MARTHA: ABSTRUSE! In the sense of recondite. (Sticks her tongue out at GEORGE) Don't you tell me words.
abstract = of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance

(editor's note:  One of the senses of abstruse means "not known by the great majority of people." That is exactly what Martha wanted to say, but George thought she wanted to say that math is especially abstract or conceptual.  Martha emphasizes her mastery of vocabulary by explaining that she meant abstruse in the sense of recondite—which is a less commonly known word. It means "incomprehensible to one of ordinary understanding or knowledge.")
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useAct 1
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
abstract art
NICK: (Indicating the abstract painting) Who . . . who did the . . . ?
abstract = not imitating external reality or objects of nature
DefinitionGenerally this sense of abstract means:
not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useAct 1
Web Links
admonish
3 uses
GEORGE (Admonishing): Tut, tut, tut.
admonishing = expressing disapproval
DefinitionGenerally admonish means:
to express disapproval to someone of their actions; or to warn or advise someone
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useAct 1
Web Links
archaic
1 use
GEORGE: I've got the ice . . .
MARTHA: . . . gotten . . .
GEORGE: Got, Martha. Got is perfectly correct . . . it's just a little . . . archaic, like you.
archaic = so extremely old as to seem to belong to an earlier period
DefinitionGenerally archaic means:
so extremely old as to seem to belong to an earlier period; or obsolete
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 2
Web Links
condescending
2 uses
GEORGE: Don't you condescend to me!
condescend = to treat others as inferior
DefinitionGenerally condescending means:
treating others as inferior; or doing something considered beneath one's position or dignity
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 1
Web Links
contempt
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
feels contempt towards her
MARTHA: (Going after them, looks back at GEORGE, contemptuously)
contemptuously = with disrespect
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contempt means:
lack of respect for someone or something thought inferior — often accompanied by a feeling of dislike or disgust
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 1
Web Links
convoluted
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
convoluted thinking
Have you ever listened to the way you talk? You're so frigging. . . convoluted . . . that's what you are. You talk like you were writing one of your stupid papers.
convoluted = complex (hard to understand)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of convoluted means:
complex — often more complex than necessary
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 2
Web Links
deride
4 uses
. . . the one thing I've tried to carry pure and unscathed through the sewer of this marriage; through the sick nights, and the pathetic, stupid days, through the derision and the laughter . . .
derision = critical disrespect — typically while laughing at or making fun of

(editor's note:  The suffix "-sion", 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 admission from admit, discussion from discuss, and invasion from invade.)
DefinitionGenerally deride means:
to criticize with strong disrespect — often
with humor
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 2
Web Links
disdain
3 uses
NICK (With great disdain): I just don't see why you feel you have to subject other people to it.
disdain = lack of respect
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
Book3 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useAct 1
Web Links
disparage
1 use
MARTHA: George talks disparagingly about the little bugger because . . . well, because he has problems.
disparagingly = with criticism or in a manner to make the child seem less important
DefinitionGenerally disparage means:
to criticize or make seem less important — especially in a disrespectful or contemptuous manner
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useAct 1
Web Links
feigned
5 uses
GEORGE (Feigned awe): Very good!
feigned = pretending to feel

(editor's note:  In this context, awe means "great respect and admiration.")
DefinitionGenerally feigned means:
pretended — usually pretending to feel something
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 1
Web Links
incredulous
7 uses
GEORGE (Incredulous): You're amused?
incredulous = unbelieving; or having difficulty accepting something so unexpected
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useAct 1
Web Links
malleable
1 use
Accommodation, malleability, adjustment . . . those do seem to be in the order of things, don't they?
malleability = to be easily influenced to fit in with surroundings
DefinitionGenerally malleable means:
of people:  easily influenced

of materials:  capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useAct 2
Web Links
pathetic
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
Her pathetic look saddened us.
GEORGE (To NICK): Let her go. (MARTHA slumps to the floor in a sitting position) She'll be all right now.

MARTHA (Pathetic): No; no, he is not dead; he is not dead.
pathetic = pitiful (arousing pity)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 3
Web Links
petulant
2 uses
HONEY (Petulantly): No! If I can't do my interpretive dance, I don't want to dance with anyone.
petulantly = with unreasonable upset
DefinitionGenerally petulant means:
unreasonably annoyed or upset

or:

easily annoyed or upset
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useAct 2
Web Links
pragmatic
3 uses
a pragmatic extension of the big dream
pragmatic = practical — especially where results triumph over ideal theory
DefinitionGenerally pragmatic means:
concerned with practical matters — especially where quick results and/or practical experience triumph over theory
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useAct 2
Web Links
preoccupied
9 uses
GEORGE (Seemingly relaxed and preoccupied, never looking): Oh, that's nice.
preoccupied = took up the attention of
DefinitionGenerally preoccupied means:
busy thinking about or doing something so that other things are not noticed or done
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 1
Web Links
profound
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
profound sadness
He is hurt, but it is more a profound humiliation than a physical injury.
profound = of greatest intensity or emotional depth
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useAct 2
Web Links
resignation
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
accepted it with resignation
GEORGE (Resignedly): Yes, Martha.
resignedly = in a manner indicating that he has accepted something undesired as unavoidable
DefinitionGenerally this sense of resignation means:
acceptance of something undesired as unavoidable or the lesser of evils
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useAct 1
Web Links
undulate
2 uses
(NICK and MARTHA move apart now and dance on either side of where GEORGE and HONEY are sitting; they face each other, and while their feet move but little, their bodies undulate congruently. . . . . It is as if they were pressed together)
undulate = move in a smooth wave-like motion

(editor's note:  In this context, congruently means:  together in synchronization or in harmony or in a coinciding manner)
DefinitionGenerally undulate means:
a smooth wave-like motion (physical or auditory)

or:

having a wavy or rippled form or surface
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useAct 2
Web Links
Go to Book Menu
Take Pre-Reading Quiz
SAT® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which is not affiliated with verbalworkout.com™, and does not endorse this site.