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A Lesson Before Dying

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
aggravate
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
she aggravates me
But the first sign of aggravation, I'm calling it off.
aggravation = annoyance or irritation

(editor's note:  The suffix "-tion", 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 action, education, and observation.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of aggravate means:
annoy or irritate
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
approximate
3 uses
Bayonne was a small town of about six thousand. Approximately three thousand five hundred whites; approximately two thousand five hundred colored.
approximately = about (but not exactly)
DefinitionGenerally approximate means:
almost, but not exact; or similar
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 4
Web Links
audible
1 use
The marble game was barely audible, but the ragball players behind the church were loud and clear, and it took all my concentration to go on with my work.
audible = capable of being heard
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
beseech
1 use
He closed by beseeching God to look down upon this humble little church and bless this gathering.
beseeching = asking strongly (with all his heart)
DefinitionGenerally beseech means:
to ask strongly or beg for something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
congregation
1 use
And the congregation responded with "Amen, Amen, Amen."
congregation = people who worship together in the same building
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
contempt
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
feels contempt towards her
...there was nothing but hatred for himself as well as contempt for us.
contempt = lack of respect
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
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 8
Web Links
emancipated
1 use
Since emancipation, almost a hundred years ago,
emancipation = release from slavery

(editor's note:  The suffix "-tion", 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 action, education, and observation.)
DefinitionGenerally emancipated means:
released from slavery or servitude; or (metaphorically) from social restraints
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
fidget
2 uses
He fidgeted with his hat.
fidgeted = made small restless movements
DefinitionGenerally fidget means:
to make small restless movements
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
grave
1 use
Reverend Ambrose said. "Deep in you, you think he know, he done grasped the significance of what it's all about? Deep in you?"

"The significance?"

"The gravity."

(Grant is asking Reverend Ambrose what he means by "significance".)
gravity = importance (weightiness)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of grave means:
serious and/or solemn
The exact meaning of this sense of grave can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "This is a grave problem," or "a situation of the utmost gravity." — important, dangerous, or causing worry
  • "She was in a grave mood upon returning from the funeral." — sad or solemn
  • "She looked me in the eye and gravely promised." — in a sincere and serious manner
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library15 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 13
Web Links
herald
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
announced by herald & trumpet
"Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" came next, and led into the nativity scene.
herald = announcing important news

(editor's note:  A nativity scene is a representation of the scene just after Jesus was born in a stable.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of herald means:
a person who announces important news — especially a king's representative
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
humiliate
3 uses
I had come through that back door against my will, and it seemed that he and the sheriff were doing everything they could to humiliate me even more by making me wait on them.
humiliate = decrease dignity, self-respect, or pride
DefinitionGenerally humiliate means:
extremely embarrass (decrease dignity, self-respect, or pride — especially in front of others)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
innate
1 use
To learn anything, he had to attain it by stealth or through an innate sense of things around him.
innate = arising from within
DefinitionGenerally innate means:
of a quality:  present at birth; or arising from within rather than having been learned or acquired
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5
Web Links
passage
1 use
Ask him to describe a rose, to quote one passage from the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.†
passage = a short part of a longer written work
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 1
Web Links
pastoral
4 uses
"It is pastoral," she said, looking around.
pastoral = countryside that is charmingly, simple, and serene
DefinitionGenerally this sense of pastoral means:
relating to the countryside — especially idealizing charmingly simple and serene country life
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 14
Web Links
pervasive
1 use
She raised the lids on two other pots, but still the odor of the onions, pepper, and garlic pervaded the room.
pervaded = filled
DefinitionGenerally pervasive means:
existing throughout something; or generally widespread
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
precede
3 uses
I motioned for him to precede me into the church.
precede = go before
DefinitionGenerally precede means:
to go or do before
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 19
Web Links
prejudice
2 uses
...they would come here and bring their prejudiced attitude with them.
prejudiced = unreasonable and unfair beliefs or feelings — especially against members of a race, religion, or other group
DefinitionGenerally prejudice means:
to have unreasonable belief that is unfair to members of a race, religion, or other group

or more generally:

to have (or create in others) an unreasonable belief that prevents objective (unbiased) consideration of an issue or situation
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 25
Web Links
scapegoat
1 use
That's why they are always looking for a scapegoat, someone else to blame.
scapegoat = someone blamed or punished for the errors of others

(editor's note:  This expression comes from an ancient Jewish ritual in which the sins of the people were ritually transferred to a goat which was then driven into the desert away from the community.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 24
Web Links
superintendent
9 uses
...the superintendent was going to visit us sometime during the week, but we didn't know what day or time.
superintendent = a person who directs and manages an organization (in this case, a school district)
DefinitionGenerally superintendent means:
a person who directs and manages an organization — such as a school district

or:

a caretaker of a building — such as an apartment building
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
tranquil
1 use
I stood up and stretched and looked across the highway at the river, so tranquil, its water as blue as the sky.
tranquil = calm and undisturbed
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 31
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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