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The Gift of the Magi

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
agile
1 use
A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks.
agile = able to move well quickly and easily
DefinitionGenerally agile means:
able to move well quickly and easily

or:

able to think well quickly and easily
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
assert
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
asserted her opinion that...
This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
assertion = statement that something is true

(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 assert means:
to say that something is true — especially something disputed
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
chronicle
1 use
And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.
chronicle = record of events
DefinitionGenerally chronicle means:
a record of events; or the act of creating such a record or telling others of the events
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
covet
1 use
And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
coveted = strongly wanted
DefinitionGenerally covet means:
to strongly want (something—especially something that belongs to another)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
discreet
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
discreet--not foolish
He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction.
discreet = polite (using good judgment) (in this case, to give some privacy)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of discreet means:
sensible and careful; possibly having good manners
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
ecstatic
1 use
And then an ecstatic scream of joy;
ecstatic = feeling intense happiness and excitement
DefinitionGenerally ecstatic means:
feeling intense happiness and excitement (as when in a state of ecstasy)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
imply
1 use
Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.
implied = said indirectly or demonstrated

Editor's notes:

This could be paraphrased as:  "She saved small amounts of money by bullying people who sold her things, and she was embarrassed that they thought of her as cheap for dealing with them in that manner."

The sentence could be broken down in this way:

"pennies saved one and two at a time" = small amounts of money that were saved

"by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher" = by bullying the people she purchased things from

"until one's cheeks burned" = until one was embarrassed (her cheeks turning red)

"with silent imputation of parsimony" = with silent accusation of cheapness

"that such close dealing implied" = that saving pennies in her dealings demonstrated
DefinitionGenerally imply means:
to suggest or say indirectly — possibly as a logical consequence
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
Web Links
impute
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
impatience often imputed to youth
Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.
imputation = the act of attributing a characteristic to someone

(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 impute means:
to say something is a characteristic of someone or something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
instigate
1 use
Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
instigates = sets into motion
DefinitionGenerally instigate means:
start or set into motion — typically some kind of conflict
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
laborious
1 use
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
laboriously = with difficulty
DefinitionGenerally laborious means:
difficult (requiring hard work)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
metaphor
1 use
Forget the hashed metaphor.
metaphor = a figure of speech in which a word is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity — as when Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage."

Editor's notes:  This line comes from this passage:

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings.
Forget the hashed metaphor.
She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.


O. Henry seems to be saying that "tripped by on rosy wings" is not a clear description of what she was doing. Instead of using a metaphor, it is better just to say that she ransacked the stores.
DefinitionGenerally metaphor means:
a figure of speech in which a similarity between two things is highlighted by using a word to refer to something that it does not literally denote — as when Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage."

When Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players." he was not saying the world is really a stage and all people are actors. But he was pointing to the similarities he wants us to recognize.
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
mortal
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
mortal body
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring.
mortal = human (especially merely human)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of mortal means:
human (especially merely human); or subject to death
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
nimble
1 use
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy;...
nimble = moving quickly and easily
DefinitionGenerally nimble means:
quick and agile  — typically physically, but can also reference quick, agile thinking

(someone who is agile does things easily)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
parsimonious
1 use
Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.
parsimony = extreme reluctance to spend money

Editor's notes:

This could be paraphrased as:  "She saved small amounts of money by bullying people who sold her things, and she was embarrassed that they thought of her as cheap for dealing with them in that manner."

The sentence could be broken down in this way:

"pennies saved one and two at a time" = small amounts of money that were saved

"by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher" = by bullying the people she purchased things from

"until one's cheeks burned" = until one was embarrassed (her cheeks turning red)

"with silent imputation of parsimony" = with silent accusation of cheapness

"that such close dealing implied" = that saving pennies in her dealings demonstrated
DefinitionGenerally parsimonious means:
extreme reluctance to spend money or use resources
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
prosperity
1 use
...during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week.
prosperity = a state of doing well — especially economically
DefinitionGenerally prosperity means:
the state of doing well — especially economically
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
prudent
1 use
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason.
prudence = good sense and caution

(editor's note:  In this context, intoxication means "ecstasy" or "happy excitement".)
DefinitionGenerally prudent means:
sensible and careful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
ravage
1 use
She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love.
ravages = damages (in this case, the appearance of her just-cut hair)
DefinitionGenerally ravage means:
to destroy or damage; or damaging effects
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
scrutiny
1 use
He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction.
scrutiny = careful look or inspection

(editor's notes:  In this context: enfolded is a synonym for hugged, and discreet means "modest or unobtrusive", so this could be paraphrased as: "He hugged Della. For a little while, let us give them some privacy by looking at something else even though it is of no importance.")
DefinitionGenerally scrutiny means:
careful examination of something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
sequential
1 use
A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks.
sequence = order (in this case, seeing one strip after the other in order)
DefinitionGenerally sequential means:
happening in a specific order — especially chronological order
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
unassuming
1 use
...they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D.
unassuming = humble
DefinitionGenerally unassuming means:
humble — especially of someone who has reason to be proud
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
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