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Water for Elephants

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
adjacent
1 use
We are adjacent to a huge grassy lot.
adjacent = nearby
DefinitionGenerally adjacent means:
very near — often directly beside
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
alternative
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
an alternative plan
It's not like we had a lot of alternatives.
alternatives = other possibilities
DefinitionGenerally this sense of alternative means:
something available as another possibility
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
belligerent
2 uses
Her expression is unmistakably belligerent.
belligerent = hostile (showing the 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 8
Web Links
bona fide
2 uses
In Seattle, two bunk cars and a bona fide freak—a bearded lady—and this made him happy, for what Uncle Al craves above all else, what Uncle Al dreams of at night, are freaks.
bona fide = true
DefinitionGenerally bona fide means:
real (genuine, true, or sincere)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
complacent
1 use
Then August's face undergoes another transformation, melding into something close to complacency.
complacency = satisfaction (lack of concern)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 18
Web Links
deference
1 use
His face assumes a deferential expression and he gestures broadly toward an entrance on the opposite side.
deferential = politely respectful
DefinitionGenerally deference means:
polite respect — often when submitting to another's wishes
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
disdain
2 uses
Her expression of bored disdain drops immediately.
disdain = lack of respect — suggesting distaste and an undeserved sense of superiority
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
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
dubious
2 uses
He looks dubious.
dubious = doubtful or suspicious
DefinitionGenerally dubious means:
doubtful
in various senses, including:
  • doubtful that something should be relied upon — as in "The argument relies on a dubious assumption."
  • doubtful that something is morally proper — as in "The company is accused of using dubious sales practices to influence minors."
  • bad or of questionable value — as in "The state has the dubious distinction of the highest taxes."
  • doubtful or uncertain — as in "She is dubious about making the change."
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 11
Web Links
extricate
1 use
I take the opportunity to extricate my arm and rise.
extricate = free
DefinitionGenerally extricate means:
free or remove from constraint or difficulty
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 6
Web Links
furtive
3 uses
Grady looks around furtively.
furtively = in a nervous manner (as though hoping not to be seen)
DefinitionGenerally furtive means:
taking pains to avoid being observed

or:

in a manner indicating nervousness (being cautious or appearing suspicious)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 10
Web Links
gesticulate
3 uses
She gesticulates wildly, arms flailing.
gesticulates = makes gestures (hand or body movements)
DefinitionGenerally gesticulate means:
to make gestures (hand or body movements) while speaking or to express something
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
guile
1 use
My head swivels, but his expression is completely without guile.
guile = cunning and deceitful
DefinitionGenerally guile means:
cunning (shrewdness and cleverness) and deceitful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 14
Web Links
impervious
1 use
Uncle Al gazes on, completely impervious.
impervious = not capable of being affected
DefinitionGenerally impervious means:
not admitting passage through; or not capable of being affected
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 12
Web Links
incredulous
2 uses
He stares at me, incredulous.
incredulous = unbelieving; or having difficulty accepting something so unexpected
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 23
Web Links
menagerie
85 uses
The crowd mills around the menagerie, viewing the animals on their way to the big top.
menagerie = a collection of wild animals in captivity; or their enclosure
DefinitionGenerally menagerie means:
a collection of wild animals in captivity; or their enclosure

or:

any an diverse group
Word Statistics
Book85 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
1st usePro.
Web Links
oblivious
4 uses
He stares at her with burning intensity, completely oblivious to Rosie.
oblivious = unaware of
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 15
Web Links
remorse
4 uses
He shakes his head with remorse.
remorse = deep regret for doing something that was wrong
DefinitionGenerally remorse means:
a feeling of deep regret for doing something that was wrong
Word Statistics
Book4 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
scrutiny
3 uses
He scrutinizes me for what feels like a very long time.
scrutinizes = looks at or examines very carefully

(editor's note:  The suffix "-ive" converts a word to a verb. This is the same pattern you see in words like apologize, theorize, and dramatize.)
DefinitionGenerally scrutiny means:
careful examination of something
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
1st useChapter 3
Web Links
tentative
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
said it tentatively
Then she leans in and kisses me, a gentle kiss, tentative but lingering.
tentative = done in a careful way indicating a lack of confidence
DefinitionGenerally this sense of tentative means:
done in a careful or unsure way (indicating a lack of confidence in exactly what will happen)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
1st useChapter 20
Web Links
trepidation
3 uses
I poke my head in with more than a little trepidation, but Kinko is gone.
trepidation = nervousness
DefinitionGenerally trepidation means:
nervousness (fear or anxiety about what will happen)
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
1st useChapter 7
Web Links
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