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Preface to Lyrical Ballads

Top-Ranked Words with Sample Sentences from the Book

instructions
acquisition
1 use
The knowledge both of the Poet and the Man of Science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow- beings.†
acquisition = obtaining; or possession
DefinitionGenerally acquisition means:
obtaining possession of something; or the thing possessed
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adapt
3 uses
1  —3 uses as in:
especially well adapted for
By the foregoing quotation I have shewn that the language of Prose may yet be well adapted to Poetry; and I have previously asserted that a large portion of the language of every good poem can in no respect differ from that of good Prose.†
well adapted = well suited
DefinitionGenerally this sense of adapted means:
to be especially well suited or appropriate for something
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apprehensive
1 use
I am sensible that my associations must have sometimes been particular instead of general, and that, consequently, giving to things a false importance, sometimes from diseased impulses I may have written upon unworthy subjects; but I am less apprehensive on this account, than that my language may frequently have suffered from those arbitrary connections of feelings and ideas with particular words and phrases, from which no man can altogether protect himself.†
apprehensive = nervous or worried
DefinitionGenerally apprehensive means:
worried over possible misfortune
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arbitrary
4 uses
...such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets, who think that they are conferring honour upon themselves and their art, in proportion as they separate themselves from the sympathies of men, and indulge in arbitrary and capricious habits of expression, in order to furnish food for fickle tastes, and fickle appetites, of their own creation.†
arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
DefinitionGenerally arbitrary means:
based on chance or impulse (rather than upon reasoning, consistent rules, or a proper sense of fairness)
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attain
6 uses
Low and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings co-exist in a state of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those...†
attain = gain or reach something with effort
DefinitionGenerally attain means:
to gain or reach something with effort
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ballad
4 uses
Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802) The first Volume of these Poems has already been submitted to general perusal.†
ballads = a song (or poem) that tells a story
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bestow
3 uses
I have therefore altogether declined to enter regularly upon this defence; yet I am sensible, that there would be some impropriety in abruptly obtruding upon the Public, without a few words of introduction, Poems so materially different from those, upon which general approbation is at present bestowed.†
bestowed = gave
DefinitionGenerally bestow means:
to give — typically to present as an honor or give as a gift
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censure
3 uses
Having dwelt thus long on the subjects and aim of these Poems, I shall request the Reader's permission to apprize him of a few circumstances relating to their style, in order, among other reasons, that I may not be censured for not having performed what I never attempted.†
censured = gave harsh or formal criticism
DefinitionGenerally censure means:
harsh criticism; or formal criticism from an organization — such as the U.S. Senate
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coincide
1 use
I should not, however, have requested this assistance, had I not believed that the Poems of my Friend would in a great measure have the same tendency as my own, and that, though there would be found a difference, there would be found no discordance in the colours of our style; as our opinions on the subject of poetry do almost entirely coincide.†
coincide = to be similar — especially to happen at the same time or place
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conducive
1 use
This is not only an act of justice, but in our decisions upon poetry especially, may conduce in a high degree to the improvement of our own taste: for an accurate taste in poetry, and in all the other arts, as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed, is an acquired talent, which can only be produced by thought and a long continued intercourse with the best models of composition.†
conduce = contribute (to a result)
DefinitionGenerally conducive means:
contribute (help lead to a result)
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contemporary
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
they are contemporaries
[note 1] I cannot, however, be insensible of the present outcry against the triviality and meanness both of thought and language, which some of my contemporaries have occasionally introduced into their metrical compositions; and I acknowledge, that this defect, where it exists, is more dishonorable to the Writer's own character than false refinement or arbitrary innovation, though I should contend at the same time that it is far less pernicious in the sum of its consequences.†
contemporaries = people who live or lived at the same time
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contemporary means:
living at the same time

or:

something occurring in the same period of time as something else
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derive
3 uses
Among the chief of these causes is to be reckoned a principle which must be well known to those who have made any of the Arts the object of accurate reflection; I mean the pleasure which the mind derives from the perception of similitude in dissimilitude.†
derives = gets
DefinitionGenerally derive means:
to get something from something else

(If the context doesn't otherwise indicate where something came from, it is generally from reasoning—especially deductive reasoning.)
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elaborate
1 use
1  —1 use as in:
elaborate on your plan
...too, of these men is adopted (purified indeed from what appear to be its real defects, from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived; and because, from their rank in society and the sameness and narrow circle of their intercourse, being less under the influence of social vanity they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions.†
unelaborated = without details

(Editor's note:  The prefix "un-" in unelaborated means not and reverses the meaning of elaborated. This is the same pattern you see in words like unhappy, unknown, and unlucky.)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of elaborate means:
add details or explain in detail
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enable
1 use
It would not have been a useless employment to have applied this principle to the consideration of metre, and to have shewn that metre is hence enabled to afford much pleasure, and to have pointed out in what manner that pleasure is produced.†
enabled = made possible
DefinitionGenerally enable means:
to make possible
in various senses, including:
  • to give someone the ability, knowledge, or authority to do something — as in "The study will enable an informed discussion."
  • to activate a computer system for use — as in "You can enable the feature in the Settings Page."
  • to permit someone to repeat bad behavior, so they reinforce the bad pattern — as in "I don't want to enable her drug addiction."
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endeavor
12 uses
It has therefore appeared to me, that to endeavour to produce or enlarge this capability is one of the best services in which, at any period, a Writer can be engaged; but this service, excellent at all times, is especially so at the present day.†
endeavour = to attempt; or a project or activity attempted

(editor's note:  This is a British spelling. Americans use endeavor.)
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external
3 uses
The sum of what I have there said is, that the Poet is chiefly distinguished from other men by a greater promptness to think and feel without immediate external excitement, and a greater power in expressing such thoughts and feelings as are produced in him in that manner.†
external = outside
DefinitionGenerally external means:
outside
in various senses, including:
  • coming from or existing outside a place, organization or thing — as in "external trade"
  • forming or relating to an outside boundary — as in "external walls"
  • on the surface or superficial as contrasted to something that is deep or complete — as in "external appearances"
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fickle
3 uses
...such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets, who think that they are conferring honour upon themselves and their art, in proportion as they separate themselves from the sympathies of men, and indulge in arbitrary and capricious habits of expression, in order to furnish food for fickle tastes, and fickle appetites, of their own creation.†
fickle = having a tendency to change suddenly — such as a person quick to change their mind, or the weather in a region where it changes rapidly
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illustrate
2 uses
1  —2 uses as in:
as illustrated by this example
I have also informed my Reader what this purpose will be found principally to be: namely to illustrate the manner in which our feelings and ideas are associated in a state of excitement.†
illustrate = help make clear
DefinitionGenerally this sense of illustrate means:
to help make clear — typically by example
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indulge
1 use
...such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets, who think that they are conferring honour upon themselves and their art, in proportion as they separate themselves from the sympathies of men, and indulge in arbitrary and capricious habits of expression, in order to furnish food for fickle tastes, and fickle appetites, of their own creation.†
indulge = enjoy 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
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judicious
4 uses
Not, surely, where the Poet speaks through the mouths of his characters: it cannot be necessary here, either for elevation of style, or any of its supposed ornaments: for, if the Poet's subject be judiciously chosen, it will naturally, and upon fit occasion, lead him to passions the language of which, if selected truly and judiciously, must necessarily be dignified and variegated, and alive with metaphors and figures.†
judiciously = in a manner that shows good judgment
DefinitionGenerally judicious means:
showing good judgment
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