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A Sketch of the Past

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
ambivalent
2 uses
Was it not the origin of the love half of my ambivalent feeling?†
ambivalent = with mixed feelings
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
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
anecdote
5 uses
They had a house at Well Walk during the Crimean War; for there was an anecdote about watching the soldiers drill on the Heath.†
anecdote = a short story that is true — often told for amusement or to make a point
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
apprehensive
3 uses
But Stella's death two years later fell on a different substance; a mind stuff and being stuff that was extraordinarily unprotected, unformed, unshielded, apprehensive, receptive, anticipatory.†
apprehensive = nervous or worried
DefinitionGenerally apprehensive means:
worried over possible misfortune
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
caustic
1 use
Sometimes he was caustic; sometimes to Thoby especially instructive.†
caustic = corrosive or harsh
DefinitionGenerally caustic means:
of a chemical substance:  corrosive; capable of destroying or eating away such as a strong acid

or:

of a person:  sarcastic, critical, or harsh
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
complacent
3 uses
By some odd fling in her birth, she had escaped all taint of Duckworth philistinism; she had none of their shrewd middle-class complacency.†
complacency = contentment (often unworried to a fault)
DefinitionGenerally complacent means:
contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
convention
7 uses
1  —7 uses as in:
conventional behavior
At last in April 1897 the marriage took place—conventionally, ceremoniously, with bells ringing, and company collected, and silver engraved wedding invitations, at St Mary Abbots.†
conventionally = something regarded as normal or typical
Word Statistics
Book7 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
digress
2 uses
This leads to a digression, which perhaps may explain a little of my own psychology; even of other people's.†
digression = a wandering from a direct or straight course — especially verbally

(editor's note:  The suffix "-sion", 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 admission from admit, discussion from discuss, and invasion from invade.)
DefinitionGenerally digress means:
wander from a direct or straight course — typically verbally
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
discredit
2 uses
For it was agreed that it wasn't the poor Maude girls' fault—the handsome dark girls who lived behind the locked gate, scaring duns, were to be pitied for their disreputable parents' discreditable imprisoned lives.†
discreditable = tending to damage the reputation of

(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 discredit means:
damage the reputation of — often causing distrust of or disbelief in
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
dispute
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
She disputes his claim.
There succeeds to that shock a memory of the immense emphasis with which once, when we were disputing were mother's eyes large or small: "Your mother's eyes are the most beautiful in the world."†
disputing = challenging, arguing about, or fighting over
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispute means:
challenge, argue about, or fight over
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
gesticulate
2 uses
Indoors he would walk up and down the room, gesticulating, crying that he had never told mother how he loved her.†
gesticulating = making gestures (hand or body movements) while speaking or to express something
DefinitionGenerally gesticulate means:
to make gestures (hand or body movements) while speaking or to express something
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
indulge
3 uses
He had been indulged, ever since he broke the flower pot and threw it at his mother (whatever the truth of that story, it ran something like that).†
indulged = enjoyed to excess
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
Book3 uses
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
innumerable
9 uses
As we walked, to beguile the dulness [of] innumerable winter walks we made up stories, long long stories that were taken up at the same place and added to each in turn.†
innumerable = too numerous to be counted
Word Statistics
Book9 uses
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
intellectual   (2 meanings)
2 meanings, 3 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
intellectual stimulation
But as I heard my mother tell my father once, he was 'nothing out of the way' intellectually.†
intellectually = in a manner that relates to intelligence
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intellectual means:
related to intelligence — such as requiring, appealing to, or possessing intelligence
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
2  —1 use as in:
She is an intellectual.
...Apostle, was muscular; coached his boat; and Christian; but shed his Christianity—with such anguish, Fred Maitlandf once hinted to me, that he thought of suicide, and how then, like Pendennis or any other of the Victorian young men of intellect—he was typical of them—took to writing for the papers, went to America; and was, so far as I can see, the very type, or mould, of so many Cambridge intellectuals—like George Trevelyan, like Charlie Sanger, likeGoldie Dickinson—whom I knew later.†
intellectuals = highly educated people interested in learning and exploring ideas — sometimes while ignoring practical considerations
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intellectual means:
a highly educated person interested in learning and exploring ideas — sometimes while ignoring practical considerations
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
preside
6 uses
Round the walls hung Sir Joshua engravings; in the corner on a pedestal of mottled yellow marble stood the bust of the first Sir James—an eyeless, white man who still presides in the hall of Adrian's house in Regents Park.†
presides = is in charge; or heads; or chairs
DefinitionGenerally preside means:
to be in charge; or to head; or to be the chairperson — especially of a formal meeting or ceremony
Word Statistics
Book6 uses
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
proportion
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
respond in proportion
He was precisely six foot in height; well proportioned; and, as the old ladies said, well set up in every respect.†
proportioned = made appropriate in size, amount, or degree
DefinitionGenerally this sense of proportion means:
appropriate in size, amount, or degree
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
reputable
2 uses
People called Maude lived there; impecunious, shifty, disreputable people; who could not pay their bills; and thus kept their gate locked and the big dog behind it to frighten duns.†
disreputable = not trusted or respected — especially thought to engage in illegal activities

(Editor's note:  The prefix "dis-" in disreputable means not or opposite. It reverses the meaning of reputable as seen in words like disagree, disconnect, and disappear.)
DefinitionGenerally reputable means:
trusted and respected (having a good reputation)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
revise
2 uses
Perhaps if I should revise and rewrite as I intend, I will make the question more exact; and worry out something by way of answer.†
revise = change
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
Book2 uses
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 10
Web Links
scrupulous
5 uses
He was scrupulously honest, honourable, in the Eton and Balliol sense, but there was more to his scrupulosity than that.†
scrupulosity = the state of behaving ethically and/or diligently
DefinitionGenerally scrupulous means:
careful to behave ethically and/or diligently (with great care and attention to detail)
Word Statistics
Book5 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
Shakespeare
11 uses
But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.†
Shakespeare = author widely regarded as the greatest in the English language and whose works include Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet
DefinitionGenerally this sense of Shakespeare means:
English dramatist and poet frequently cited as the greatest writer in the English language and who wrote such works as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet (1564-1616)
Word Statistics
Book11 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
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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