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Absalom, Absalom!

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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acquiesce
9 uses
She seemed not only to acquiesce, to be reconciled to her life and marriage, but to be actually proud of it.
acquiesce = reluctantly comply
DefinitionGenerally acquiesce means:
reluctant or unenthusiastic compliance, consent, or agreement
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
assuage
3 uses
...since both of the two people who could have given him a father had declined to do it, nothing mattered to him now, revenge or love or all, since he knew now that revenge could not compensate him nor love assuage.
assuage = soothe (make something less unpleasant)
DefinitionGenerally assuage means:
to soothe (make something less unpleasant or frightening)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
atrophy
2 uses
... the need, to communicate by speech atrophies from disuse and...
atrophies = withers or weakens
DefinitionGenerally atrophy means:
to wither or weaken — especially from lack of use
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
credulous
2 uses
...to move the dreamer ... to credulity...
credulity = willingness to believe (in this case, that the dream is real)
DefinitionGenerally credulous means:
gullible (being too willing to believe)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
decorum
10 uses
...the principles of honor, decorum and gentleness applied to perfectly normal human instinct which you Anglo-Saxons insist upon calling lust...
decorum = proper manners and conduct
DefinitionGenerally decorum means:
manners and conduct considered to be proper and in good taste
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
defer
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
deferred the decision
...if even deferred love could have supplied her with the will to exist,
deferred = postponed (not to be fulfilled until another time)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
delay or postpone (hold off until a later time)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
despair
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
she felt despair
...must show neither surprise nor despair,
despair = hopelessness
DefinitionGenerally this sense of despair means:
hopelessness; or distress (such as extreme worry or sadness from feeling powerless to change a bad situation)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
enigma
1 use
...he (Bon) seems to have withdrawn into a mere spectator, passive, a little sardonic, and completely enigmatic.
enigmatic = mysterious and seeming unexplainable
DefinitionGenerally enigma means:
something mysterious that seems unexplainable
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
forbearance
3 uses
Sutpen never raised his voice at them, that instead he led them, caught them at the psychological instant by example, by some ascendancy of forbearance rather than by brute fear.
forbearance = refraining (holding back) from acting

or:

patience, tolerance, or self-control
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
impervious
14 uses
We led the busy eventless lives of three nuns in a barren and poverty-stricken convent: the walls we had were safe, impervious enough, even if it did not matter to the walls whether we ate or not.
impervious = not permitting passage through (to those not allowed in)
DefinitionGenerally impervious means:
not admitting passage through; or not capable of being affected
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
indolent
11 uses
...even if he was too dull or too indolent to suspect or find out about his father himself...
indolent = lazy
DefinitionGenerally this sense of indolent means:
lazy; disinclined to work
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
intractable
4 uses
...as if he were trying to explain it to an intractable and unpredictable child:
intractable = difficult to manage or control
DefinitionGenerally intractable means:
difficult
in various senses, including:
  • of problems or disease — difficult to solve or cure
  • of people or animals — difficult to manage or control
  • of materials — difficult to manipulate
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
irony   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 2 uses
1  —1 use as in:
situational irony
...while he was still playing the scene to the audience, behind him fate, destiny, retribution, irony—the stage manager, call him what you will—was already striking the set and...
irony = when what happens is very different than what might be expected
DefinitionGenerally this sense of irony means:
when what happens is very different than what might be expected; or when things are together that seem like they don't belong together — especially when amusing or an entertaining coincidence
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
2  —1 use as in:
verbal irony
...asking at last, interrupting maybe, courteous and affable—nothing of irony, nothing of sarcasm—
irony = saying one thing while meaning something else
DefinitionGenerally this sense of irony means:
saying one thing, while meaning the opposite or something else — usually as humor or sarcasm
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
provincial
1 use
...to correct Henry's provincial manners and speech and clothing.
provincial = unsophisticated
DefinitionGenerally this sense of provincial means:
unsophisticated (meant disapprovingly to refer to old-fashioned or narrow-minded attitudes and ideas)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
redundant
2 uses
I wont say hungry because to a woman ... below Mason's and Dixon's in this year of grace 1865, that word would be sheer redundancy, like saying that we were breathing.
redundancy = 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
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
repudiate
21 uses
...the son who had repudiated the very roof under which he had been born and to which he would return but once more before disappearing for good, and that as a murderer...
repudiated = strongly rejected
DefinitionGenerally repudiate means:
strong rejection — especially when the idea or thing being rejected was once embraced
Word Statistics
Book21 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
satiate
3 uses
...the return to grace heralded by Heaven-placating cries of satiated abasement and flagellation,
satiated = filled to satisfaction
DefinitionGenerally satiate means:
to satisfy a hunger; or fill to satisfaction (typically said of hunger for food, but can be said of anything desired—such as of knowledge or sensual pleasure)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
somber
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
somber colors
...in a frock coat and a flowered waistcoat and a hat which would have created no furore on a Paris boulevard, all of which he was to wear constantly for the next two years—the sombrely theatric clothing and the expression of fatalistic and amazed determination—†
sombrely = dark or dull color

(editor's note:  This is a British spelling. Americans use somberly.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of somber means:
lacking brightness or color — perhaps gloomy
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 2
Web Links
ubiquitous
3 uses
I can imagine her engineering that courtship, supplying Judith and Bon with opportunities for trysts and pledges with a coy and unflagging ubiquity which they must have tried in vain to evade and escape,
ubiquity = being present everywhere or all the time
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 3
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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