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A Modest Proposal

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
brevity
1 use
But this, and many others, I omit, being studious of brevity.†
brevity = the use of just a few words; or lasting a short time
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Library1 use in 10 avg bks
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consequence
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
a direct consequence of
They cannot get work, and consequently pine away from want of nourishment, to a degree, that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it, and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.†
consequently = resultantly (as a result)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of consequence means:
a result of something (often an undesired side effect)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library28 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
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contrived
1 use
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.†
contrive = arrange

(editor's note:  The suffix "-ive" converts a word into an adjective; though over time, what was originally an adjective often comes to be used as a noun. The adjective pattern means tending to and is seen in words like attractive, impressive, and supportive. Examples of the noun include narrative, alternative, and detective.)
DefinitionGenerally contrived means:
unnatural seeming (due to careful planning)

or more rarely:

arranged (that something should happen)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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cultivate
1 use
For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old; except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers: As I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to...†
cultivate = develop, grow, or prepare for growing crops
DefinitionGenerally cultivate means:
enhance growth or development
in various senses, including:
  • to grow crops or prepare land for them
  • enhance a relationship — especially for a purpose
  • develop discernment (better recognition of differences) in taste or judgment
  • to grow a culture in a petri dish
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
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deference
1 use
But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our school-boys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable, and to fatten them would not answer the charge.†
deference = polite respect
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
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deplore
1 use
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the...†
deplorable = very bad or regrettable

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-able" means able to be. This is the same pattern you see in words like breakable, understandable, and comfortable.)
DefinitionGenerally deplore means:
strongly dislike or regret
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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despondent
1 use
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance.†
desponding = getting depressed
DefinitionGenerally despondent means:
emotionally depressed — especially a feeling of grief and hopelessness after a loss
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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digress
1 use
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject.
digressed = wandered away from the main topic
DefinitionGenerally digress means:
wander from a direct or straight course — typically verbally
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Library1 use in 10 avg bks
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endeavor
1 use
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the publick good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich.†
endeavouring = trying or attempting

(editor's note:  This is a British spelling. Americans use endeavoring.)
DefinitionGenerally endeavor means:
to attempt; or a project or activity attempted
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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enumerate
1 use
Many other advantages might be enumerated.†
enumerated = to name items individually (as though making a list); or to count
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faction
1 use
...vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one...†
factions = sub-groups
DefinitionGenerally faction means:
a sub-group with some interests not shared by the entire group
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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grave
1 use
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolifick dyet, there are more children born in Roman Catholick countries about nine months after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by...†
grave = serious and solemn
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
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grievous
1 use
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance.†
grievous = very serious; or very bad
DefinitionGenerally grievous means:
very serious; or very bad; or causing grief
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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livelihood
2 uses
These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.†
livelihood = the money needed to provide the necessesities of life; or the way one earns that money
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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melancholy
1 use
It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms.†
melancholy = a sad feeling or manner
DefinitionGenerally melancholy means:
a sad feeling or manner — sometimes thoughtfully sad
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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omit
1 use
But this, and many others, I omit, being studious of brevity.†
omit = to exclude or neglect something
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
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prodigious
1 use
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the...†
prodigious = enormous; or far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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prudent
1 use
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.†
prudent = sensible and careful
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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scrupulous
1 use
Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission, be a loss to the publick, because they soon would become breeders themselves: And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.†
scrupulous = careful to behave ethically and/or diligently
DefinitionGenerally scrupulous means:
careful to behave ethically and/or diligently (with great care and attention to detail)
Word Statistics
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
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sustenance
2 uses
These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.†
sustenance = food or something else that supports or strengthens the body or spirit; or the support provided
Word Statistics
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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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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