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Barn Burning

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

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attain
1 use
Now he could hear his father's stiff foot as it came down on the boards with clocklike finality, a sound out of all proportion to the displacement of the body it bore and which was not dwarfed either by the white door before it, as though it had attained to a sort of vicious and raveningminimum not to be dwarfed by anything - the flat, wide, black hat, the formal coat of broadcloth which had once been black but which had now the friction-glazed greenish cast of the bodies of old house...†
attained = gained or reached something with effort
DefinitionGenerally attain means:
to gain or reach something with effort
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
beckon
1 use
...he saw the men between himself and the table part and become a lane of grim faces, at the end of which he saw the justice, a shabby, collarless, graying man in spectacles, beckoning him.
beckoning = calling (to come nearer by using a hand gesture or a nod)
DefinitionGenerally beckon means:
to call — typically to ask or tell someone to come nearer by using a hand gesture or a nod of the head
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
bequeath
1 use
Then he was moving, running outside the house, toward the stable: this the old habit, the old blood which he had not been permitted to choose for himself, which had been bequeathed him willy nilly and which had run for so long (and who knew where, battening on what of outrage and savagery and lust) before it came to him.†
bequeathed = give or pass down
DefinitionGenerally bequeath means:
give or pass down — often upon death in a will
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
contrived
1 use
...touch, he no more to them than a buzzing wasp: capable of stinging for a little moment but that's all; the spell of this peace and dignity rendering even the barns and stable and cribs which belong to it impervious to the puny flames he might contrive ... this, the peace and joy, ebbing for an instant as he looked again at the stiff black back, the stiff and implacable limp of the figure which was not dwarfed by the house, for the reason that it had never looked big anywhere and which...†
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
Web Links
deluge
1 use
Miss Lula!" somewhere behind them, then the boy, deluged as though by a warm wave by a suave turn of carpeted stair and a pendant glitter of chandeliers and a mute gleam of gold frames, heard the swift feet and saw her too, a lady - perhaps he had never seen her like before either - in a gray, smooth gown with lace at the throat and an apron tied at the waist and the sleeves turned back, wiping cake or biscuit dough from her hands with a towel as she came up the hall, looking not at...†
deluged = overwhelmed — especially with 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
deviate
1 use
Watching him, the boy remarked the absolutely undeviating course which his father held and saw the stiff foot come squarely down in a pile of fresh droppings where a horse had stood in the drive and which his father could have avoided by a simple change of stride.†
undeviating = not changing or differing

(Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in undeviating means not and reverses the meaning of deviating. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of deviate means:
differ or change
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
discern
1 use
Enemy! he thought; for a moment he could not even see, could not see that the justice's face was kindly nor discern that his voice was troubled when he spoke to the man named Harris: "Do you want me to question this boy?†
discern = notice or understand something
DefinitionGenerally discern means:
to notice or understand something — often something that is not obvious
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
divulge
1 use
His father had struck him before last night but never before had he paused afterward to explain why; it was as if the blow and the following calm, outrageous voice still rang, repercussed, divulging nothing to him save the terrible handicap of being young, the light weight of his few years, just heavy enough to prevent his soaring free of the world as it seemed to be ordered but not heavy enough to keep him footed solid in it, to resist it and try to change the course of its events.†
divulging = making known (secret of private information)
DefinitionGenerally divulge means:
make known (secret of private information)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
ebb
2 uses
But it ebbed only for a moment, though he could not have thought this into words either, walking on in the spell of the house, which he could even want but without envy, without sorrow, certainly never with that ravening and jealous rage which unknown to him walked in the iron like black coat before him.†
ebbed = declined — typically gradually as with the height of the tide
DefinitionGenerally ebb means:
decline — typically gradually as with the height of the tide
Word Statistics
Book2 uses
Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
encompass
1 use
But that was too late too, the sister (the sisters were twins, born at the same time, yet either of them now gave the impression of being, encompassing as much living meat and volume and weight as any other two of the family) not yet having begun to rise from the chair, her head, face, alone merely turned, presenting to him in the flying instant an astonishing expanse of young female features untroubled by any surprise even, wearing only an expression of bovine interest.†
encompassing = include in scope; or surround
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
excruciating
1 use
The hand came even faster than the blow had, the same hand which had set the can on the table with almost excruciating care flashing from the can toward him too quick for him to follow it, gripping him by the back of the shirt and on to tiptoe before he had seen it quit the can, the face stooping at him in breathless and frozen ferocity, the cold, dead voice speaking over him to the older brother who leaned against the table, chewing with that steady, curious, sidewise motion of cows:...†
excruciating = extremely painful—physically as from a toothache or emotionally as from embarrassment
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
impervious
3 uses
His father appeared at the door, framed against that shabbiness, as he had been against that other bland perfection, impervious to either, the mother's anxious face at his shoulder.†
impervious = not admitting passage through; or not capable of being affected
Word Statistics
Book3 uses
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
incredulous
1 use
...of carpeted stair and a pendant glitter of chandeliers and a mute gleam of gold frames, heard the swift feet and saw her too, a lady - perhaps he had never seen her like before either - in a gray, smooth gown with lace at the throat and an apron tied at the waist and the sleeves turned back, wiping cake or biscuit dough from her hands with a towel as she came up the hall, looking not at his father at all but at the tracks on the blond rug with an expression of incredulous amazement.†
incredulous = unbelieving; or having difficulty accepting something so unexpected
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 1000
Web Links
irascible
1 use
His father paused and looked back - the harsh level stare beneath the shaggy, graying, irascible brows.
irascible = easily angered
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library1 use in 10 avg bks
Web Links
nevertheless
1 use
Nevertheless, fit it will and you'll hog it and like it," his father said.†
nevertheless = in spite of that (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally nevertheless means:
in spite of that (Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include words and phrases such as nonetheless, all the same, still,  and however.)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library14 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 100
Web Links
palpable
1 use
He felt no floor under his bare feet; he seemed to walk beneath the palpable weight of the grim turning faces.†
palpable = very apparent
DefinitionGenerally palpable means:
very apparent (so strong, it almost seems to take a material form that can be touched)
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
ravine
1 use
But he could hear, and during those subsequent long seconds while there was absolutely no sound in the crowded little room save that of quiet and intent breathing it was as if he had swung outward at the end ofa grape vine, over a ravine, and at the top of the swing had been caught in a prolonged instant of mesmerized gravity, weightless in time.†
ravine = a deep narrow steep-sided valley — especially one formed by running water
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
serene
1 use
...belong to it impervious to the puny flames he might contrive ... this, the peace and joy, ebbing for an instant as he looked again at the stiff black back, the stiff and implacable limp of the figure which was not dwarfed by the house, for the reason that it had never looked big anywhere and which now, against the serene columned backdrop, had more than ever that impervious quality of something cut ruthlessly from tin, depthless, as though, sidewise to the sun, it would cast no shadow.†
serene = calm and untroubled
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
subsequent
1 use
But he could hear, and during those subsequent long seconds while there was absolutely no sound in the crowded little room save that of quiet and intent breathing it was as if he had swung outward at the end ofa grape vine, over a ravine, and at the top of the swing had been caught in a prolonged instant of mesmerized gravity, weightless in time.†
subsequent = following something else
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®*top 500
Web Links
tranquil
1 use
...and need must in a moment more find him wings, waiting until the ultimate instant to hurl himself aside and into the weed-choked roadside ditch as the horse thundered past and on, for an instant in furious silhouette against the stars, the tranquil early summer night sky which, even before the shape of the horse and rider vanished, strained abruptly and violently upward: a long, swirling roar incredible and soundless, blotting the stars, and he springing up and into the road again,...†
tranquil = calm and undisturbed
Word Statistics
Book1 use
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
Web Links
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