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A Wagner Matinee

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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aloof
1 use
I have seen this same aloofness in old miners who drift into the Brown Hotel at Denver, their pockets full of bullion, their linen soiled, their haggard faces unshaven; standing in the thronged corridors as solitary as though they were still in a frozen camp on the Yukon, conscious that certain experiences have isolated them from their fellows by a gulf no haberdasher could bridge.†
aloofness = the quality or degree of being socially distant or uninterested

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-ness" converts an adjective to a noun that means the quality of. This is the same pattern you see in words like darkness, kindness, and coolness.)
DefinitionGenerally aloof means:
socially distant or uninterested in something that interests others — often thinking oneself superior to others
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
conjecture
1 use
I watched her closely through the prelude to Tristan and Isolde, trying vainly to conjecture what that seething turmoil of strings and winds might mean to her, but she sat mutely staring at the violin bows that drove obliquely downward, like the pelting streaks of rain in a summer shower.†
conjecture = a conclusion or opinion based on inconclusive evidence; or the act of forming of such a conclusion or opinion
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
deluge
1 use
The deluge of sound poured on and on; I never knew what she found in the shining current of it; I never knew how far it bore her, or past what happy islands.†
deluge = an overwhelming amount; or to overwhelm — especially said of water
DefinitionGenerally deluge means:
a large amount of something — especially water

or:

to overwhelm with a large amount of something — especially water
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
direct
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
depart directly
She was further troubled because she had neglected to tell her daughter about the freshly opened kit of mackerel in the cellar, which would spoil if it were not used directly.†
directly = in a short time
DefinitionGenerally this sense of direct means:
without delay, or in the quickest manner, or without going somewhere else first
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library16 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
dogged
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
dogged determination
Once when I had been doggedly beating out some easy passages from an old score of Euryanthe I had found among her music books, she came up to me and, putting her hands over my eyes, gently drew my head back upon her shoulder, saying tremulously, "Don't love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you.†
doggedly = with continuing effort despite difficulties
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dogged means:
continuing effort to achieve something despite difficulties (persistent)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
dwell
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
a modest dwelling
They built a dugout in the red hillside, one of those cave dwellings whose inmates so often reverted to primitive conditions.†
dwellings = houses or shelters in which people live
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwelling means:
a house or shelter in which someone lives
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
ebb
1 use
She sat looking about her with eyes as impersonal, almost as stony, as those with which the granite Rameses in a museum watches the froth and fret that ebbs and flows about his pedestal-separated from it by the lonely stretch of centuries.†
ebbs and flows = exhibits a recurring pattern of decrease and increase
DefinitionGenerally ebb means:
decline — typically gradually as with the height of the tide
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
excruciating
1 use
It never really died, then—the soul that can suffer so excruciatingly and so interminably; it withers to the outward eye only; like that strange moss which can lie on a dusty shelf half a century and yet, if placed in water, grows green again.†
excruciatingly = extremely painful—physically as from a toothache or emotionally as from embarrassment
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
flexible
1 use
She wore ill-fitting false teeth, and her skin was as yellow as a Mongolian's from constant exposure to a pitiless wind and to the alkaline water which hardens the most transparent cuticle into a sort of flexible leather.†
flexible = bendable or adaptable
DefinitionGenerally flexible means:
bendable or adaptable
in various senses, including:
  • easily bent without physical damage or injury — as of a hose or gymnast
  • able to adjust readily to different conditions — as of a plan
  • willing to make concessions — as of a negotiator or a boss
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
however
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
However, complications may...
From the time we entered the concert hall, however, she was a trifle less passive and inert, and for the first time seemed to perceive her surroundings.†
however = a word used to connect contrasting ideas as when using though, in spite of that, in contrast, nevertheless, etc.
DefinitionGenerally this sense of however means:
though (or another expression that connects contrasting ideas)

(Based on idea 1 we might not expect idea 2, but this is a way of saying that even though idea 1 exists, we still have idea 2.  Synonyms include in spite of that, , nevertheless, nonetheless, on the other hand, in contrastand but.)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library61 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
interminable
1 use
It never really died, then—the soul that can suffer so excruciatingly and so interminably; it withers to the outward eye only; like that strange moss which can lie on a dusty shelf half a century and yet, if placed in water, grows green again.†
interminably = seemingly endless; or long and unpleasant (often boring or annoying)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
invariably
1 use
When the musicians came out and took their places, she gave a little stir of anticipation and looked with quickening interest down over the rail at that invariable grouping, perhaps the first wholly familiar thing that had greeted her eye since she had left old Maggie and her weakling calf.†
invariable = never changing; or always the same

(Editor's note:  The suffix "-able" means able to be. This is the same pattern you see in words like breakable, understandable, and comfortable.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
martyr
1 use
She was a pious woman; she had the consolations of religion and, to her at least, her martyrdom was not wholly sordid.†
martyrdom = the death or suffering of someone due to upholding principles
DefinitionGenerally martyr means:
someone who dies or suffers to uphold principles — especially someone killed for refusing to renounce their religion, or someone who commits a suicide death in the name of their religion

or:

someone who suffers a great deal
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
matinée
2 uses
Wagner Matinee [story title]†
matinee = daytime performance
DefinitionGenerally matinée means:
a daytime performance (of something like a movie or play)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
opera
2 uses
I asked her whether she had ever heard any of the Wagnerian operas and found that she had not, though she was perfectly familiar with their respective situations, and had once possessed the piano score of The Flying Dutchman.†
operas = classical music plays in which most of the dialogue is sung
DefinitionGenerally opera means:
a musical play with orchestra in which most dialogue is sung — (typically associated with classical music and often in a language foreign to the audience)

or:

the art form (or describing something as related to it) that consists of musical plays with orchestra in which most dialogue is sung
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
recollect
2 uses
The name of my Aunt Georgiana called up not alone her own figure, at once pathetic and grotesque, but opened before my feet a gulf of recollection so wide and deep that, as the letter dropped from my hand, I felt suddenly a stranger to all the present conditions of my existence, wholly ill at ease and out of place amid the familiar surroundings of my study.†
recollection = memory

(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 recollect means:
to remember — especially experiences from long ago
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
reproach
2 uses
When she returned to her duties in Boston, Howard followed her, and the upshot of this inexplicable infatuation was that she eloped with him, eluding the reproaches of her family and the criticisms of her friends by going with him to the Nebraska frontier.†
reproaches = criticizes; or criticisms
DefinitionGenerally reproach means:
a criticism; or to express criticism — especially where a relationship makes the disapproval result in disappointment or shame
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
Web Links
respective
1 use
I asked her whether she had ever heard any of the Wagnerian operas and found that she had not, though she was perfectly familiar with their respective situations, and had once possessed the piano score of The Flying Dutchman.†
respective = relating separately to the people or things just mentioned
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 2000
Web Links
Richard Wagner
2 uses
Wagner Matinee [story title]†
Wagner = German composer, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his groundbreaking symphonic-operas (1813-1883)
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
superficial
1 use
But, again, I found how superficially I had judged her.†
superficially = relating to a surface rather than to anything deep or penetrating (often of injuries or thinking)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
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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