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A Prayer for Owen Meany

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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ambivalent
1 use
Grandmother suffered ambivalent feelings every Fourth of July; she was patriotic enough to stand on her doorstep waving a small American flag—the flag itself was not any larger than the palm of her hand—but at the same time, she frowned upon all the ruckus; she frequently reprimanded the children who rode their bicycles across her lawn, and she shouted at the dogs to stop their fool barking.†
ambivalent = with mixed feelings
From page 585.1  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally ambivalent means:
having mixed feelings about something — such as when part of you wants to do something and part of you does not
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 9, p.585.1
Web Links
condescending
9 uses
"You sound positively converted," Mr. Merrill said condescendingly.†
condescendingly = in a manner treating others as inferior
From page 550.7  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally condescending means:
treating others as inferior; or doing something considered beneath one's position or dignity
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6, p.297.2
Web Links
contemporary
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
they are contemporaries
That was the kind of thing that Mrs. Hoyt was attempting to prepare us for—as early as February 1966 she started warning the young people who would listen to her; she made contact with all of Harry's contemporaries in Gravesend.†
contemporaries = people who live or lived at the same time
From page 474.8  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contemporary means:
living at the same time

or:

something occurring in the same period of time as something else
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 8, p.474.8
Web Links
context
2 uses
"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT," said Owen Meany.†
context = the setting or situation in which something occurs
From page 384.1  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 7, p.384.1
Web Links
contrast
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
contrast their writing styles
In contrast, the woman could not relax; her fingers picked at her clothes, and she poked at her hair— which was piled mountainously high and was as sticky-looking as a cone of cotton candy.†
in contrast = in a comparison that shows differences
From page 593.5  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contrast means:
point to differences between; or compare to show differences
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 6, p.260.5
Web Links
critique
1 use
I can only imagine how Owen would have critiqued one of Hester the Molester's rock videos: "HESTER, ONE WOULD NEVER SUSPECT—FROM THIS MINDLESS MESS—THAT YOU WERE A MUSIC MAJOR, AND A SOCIALIST.†
critiqued = an examination and judgment of something
From page 522.4  Typical Usage
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 9, p.522.4
Web Links
dispute
4 uses
1  —4 uses as in:
She disputes his claim.
As for the settlement of the disputed deed, you can be sure the Indians were not the beneficiaries of the resolution to that difference of opinion.†
disputed = challenged, argued about, or fought over
From page 10.9  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispute means:
challenge, argue about, or fight over
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 8, p.430.6
Web Links
foreshadow
2 uses
I told my Grade 12 English class that they should reread what Hardy called the first "phase" of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the part called "The Maiden"; although I had drawn their attention to Hardy's fondness for foreshadowing, the class was especially sleepyheaded at spotting these devices.†
foreshadowing = being a sign of
From page 312.6  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally foreshadow means:
to be a sign of future events
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 6, p.312.6
Web Links
indulge
14 uses
Now that it mattered to him, to get the timing of his leap adjusted to my lifting him even higher, why couldn't I simply indulge him without criticizing him?†
indulge = enjoy to excess
From page 308.9  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally indulge means:
to give into a desire or enjoy something — especially in excess of what is thought good—such as a desire to eat too much cake, or be too lazy

or:

to allow or help someone to get their way or enjoy something — especially something that (probably because of excess) is not considered to be good or proper
Word Statistics
Book14 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 2, p.61.7
Web Links
manifest
8 uses
1  —8 uses as in:
manifest destiny
Lydia's nodding was the most detectable manifestation of how her senility was in advance of my grandmother's senility—or so my grandmother had observed, privately, to me.†
manifestation = demonstration (something made obvious or shown)

(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.)
From page 194.2  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of manifest means:
obvious; or to make obvious; or to show or demonstrate
Word Statistics
Book8 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 5, p.210.5
Web Links
narrator
1 use
I was a touch anxious about reading the story, because one of my students—Yvonne Hewlett—was in a situation all too similar to the narrator's situation in that story: her father was in the hospital, about to undergo a ticklish heart surgery.†
narrator = someone who tells a story—especially the main voice in a documentary, or a character who talks directly to the audience in a movie, play or other performance
From page 559.1  Typical Usage
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 9, p.559.1
Web Links
persecution
9 uses
"THIS UNJUST IMPOSITION ENCOURAGES RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION," said The Voice; Owen saw signs. of anti-Catholicism springing up everywhere.†
persecution = very bad and unfair treatment
From page 307  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally persecution means:
very bad and unfair treatment of others — usually because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 5, p.240.1
Web Links
revise
10 uses
He had revised a few of his earlier views of our Vietnam policy.†
revised = changed
From page 508.9  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally revise means:
to change (and hopefully improve) — most frequently to improve a written document, but it can be any intentional change such as a change in an estimated amount, a plan, or a series of procedures
Word Statistics
Book10 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
1st useChapter 4, p.169.2
Web Links
vengeance   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 6 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
vengeance is mine
It would be a better story, I think, if Mr. Fish had been killed by the diaper truck—but every study of the gods, of everyone's gods, is a revelation of vengeance toward the innocent.†
vengeance = the act of taking revenge
From page 9.4  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of vengeance means:
the act of taking revenge

(Revenge means to harm someone to get them back for something harmful that they have done.)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1, p.9.4
Web Links
2  —4 uses as in:
with a vengeance
And it occurs to me now that Owen's voice was the voice of all those murdered mice, coming back to life—with a vengeance.†
with a vengeance = with intensity
From page 19.9  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 1, p.19.9
Web Links
warrant
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
serious enough to warrant surgery
He must have been a difficult "role model" for Hester, however, because I think her worshipful love of him—in addition to her constant losses in the daily competitions with her older brothers—simply overwhelmed her, and gave her an unwarranted contempt of my Aunt Martha.†
unwarranted = not justified

(editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unwarranted means not and reverses the meaning of warranted. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
From page 58.9  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of warrant means:
to justify (make an action reasonable or necessary)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
1st useChapter 2, p.58.9
Web Links
yield
4 uses
1  —4 uses as in:
yield to pressure
The class loved Sartre and Camus—the concept of "the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation" was thrilling to us teenagers.†
unyielding = strict, firm, or hard (not giving in, not giving way, or not giving up)

(editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unyielding means not and reverses the meaning of yielding. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
From page 314.9  All Book Uses  Typical Usage
DefinitionGenerally this sense of yield means:
to give in, give way, or give up
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6, p.314.9
Web Links
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