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The Third Hundred Study Words for

Standardized Tests like the SAT® & ACT®

Ordered by Importance of Study
Based on the SAT® as redesigned for tests taken after January of 2016*
(click/touch triangles for details)
Return to the Top 100 Words
malicious
I am not interested in hearing malicious gossip.
malicious = evil; or made with the intent to make others suffer
DefinitionGenerally malicious means:
wanting to see others suffer; or threatening evil
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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skeptical
I am skeptical about her plan.
skeptical = doubtful (in this case, of the quality of the plan)
DefinitionGenerally skeptical means:
doubtful (that something is true)

or more rarely:

generally tending to doubt what others believe
Word Statistics
Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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initiate
3 meanings
as in:
initiate discussions
The study concluded that women initiate divorce more frequently than men.
initiate = begin the process of
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
to cause (something) to begin
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
initiate into the art of drumming
That weekend, she was initiated into the art of fly fishing.
initiated = introduced (did it for the first time)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
introduce to an activity or area of knowledge
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as in:
initiate into the fraternity
The photo is from the ceremony when she was initiated into the sorority.
initiated = accepted into the group in a special ceremony
DefinitionGenerally this sense of initiate means:
to accept someone's membership into an organization — typically in a ceremony — sometimes including a period of instruction and/or test
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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perish
...government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln  --  Gettysburg Address
perish = be destroyed or cease to exist
DefinitionGenerally perish means:
to die — especially in an unnatural way

or:

to be destroyed or cease to exist
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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static
He was raised in a static village community where most people farmed in the same manner as their grandparents.
static = not changing
DefinitionGenerally this sense of static means:
not moving or not changing
Word Statistics
Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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treacherous
The road through Afghanistan's Kabul gorge is even more treacherous than the Road of Death in Bolivia.
treacherous = dangerous
DefinitionGenerally treacherous means:
dangerous

or:

likely to betray; or guilty of betrayal
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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dilemma
It is an ethical dilemma.
dilemma = a situation in which a difficult choice must be made between imperfect alternatives
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dubious
She was dubious, but agreed to come with us anyway.
dubious = doubtful; or suspicious; or full of uncertainty
DefinitionGenerally dubious means:
doubtful
in various senses, including:
  • doubtful that something should be relied upon — as in "The argument relies on a dubious assumption."
  • doubtful that something is morally proper — as in "The company is accused of using dubious sales practices to influence minors."
  • bad or of questionable value — as in "The state has the dubious distinction of the highest taxes."
  • doubtful or uncertain — as in "She is dubious about making the change."
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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deference
They changed their strategy in deference to the President's wishes.
deference = respect
DefinitionGenerally deference means:
polite respect — often when submitting to another's wishes
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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pervasive
We were losing 35 to 0 at halftime and there was a pervasive sense of gloom in the locker room.
pervasive = existing throughout something
DefinitionGenerally pervasive means:
existing throughout something; or generally widespread
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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unprecedented
Human impact on the environment is increasing at an unprecedented rate.
unprecedented = not having happened before
DefinitionGenerally unprecedented means:
not having happened before; or nothing similar having happened before
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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plausible
She offered a plausible excuse.
plausible = apparently reasonable, but unproven
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apprehend
2 meanings
as in:
apprehend the situation
She doesn't yet apprehend the seriousness of the charge against her.
apprehend = understand
DefinitionGenerally this sense of apprehend means:
to understand
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
apprehend the criminal
Police are determined to apprehend the murderer.
apprehend = catch and arrest
DefinitionGenerally this sense of apprehend means:
to capture and arrest someone suspected of breaking the law
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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complacent
He had become complacent after years of success.
complacent = contented (unworried and satisfied) — often to a fault
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deplete
The poorer a country's people are, the greater the temptation to deplete the country's forests and fisheries.
deplete = use up (resources or materials)
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solidarity
The incident threatens Arab solidarity.
solidarity = agreement and mutual support
DefinitionGenerally solidarity means:
a state of agreement and support — especially for political action
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anecdote
Her autobiography is sprinkled with amusing anecdotes.
anecdotes = short, true stories
DefinitionGenerally anecdote means:
a short story that is true — often told for amusement or to make a point
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perceptive
She made a perceptive observation.
perceptive = of something noticed that many people might have missed
DefinitionGenerally perceptive means:
to be better at noticing things than most people
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lucrative
It is Google's most lucrative business.
lucrative = profitable
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pragmatic
She is a pragmatic problem solver.
pragmatic = concerned with practical matters
DefinitionGenerally pragmatic means:
concerned with practical matters — especially where quick results and/or practical experience triumph over theory
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disparage
She has a reputation for disparaging the efforts of her co-workers.
disparaging = criticizing or making seem less important
DefinitionGenerally disparage means:
to criticize or make seem less important — especially in a disrespectful or contemptuous manner
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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acclaim
It's a critically acclaimed movie.
acclaimed = popularly and enthusiastically praised
DefinitionGenerally acclaim means:
to praise enthusiastically and publicly — sometimes choosing without opposition or a formal vote
Word Statistics
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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anomaly
They rate a nuclear event from 1 (an anomaly) to 7 (a major accident).
anomaly = something outside of the range of what is normally expected
Word Statistics
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altercation
We have video of the altercation.
altercation = a noisy argument, confrontation, or fight
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brevity
I'm not sure they appreciated her speech, but I know they liked its brevity.
brevity = lasting a short time
DefinitionGenerally brevity means:
the use of just a few words; or lasting a short time
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exemplify
When he said "Let's roll," his courage exemplified America's determination to defend itself.
exemplified = acted as an example
DefinitionGenerally exemplify means:
to act as an example
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egregious
She asked for triple damages due to egregious negligence.
egregious = exceptionally bad
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perishable
Spoilage is an important cost for businesses that deal in perishable goods.
perishable = things that decay (spoil)
DefinitionGenerally perishable means:
things that decay (spoil) — (often said of foods that need refrigeration such as meats or milk)
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mean
We have a mean annual rainfall of 23 inches.
mean = average
DefinitionGenerally this sense of mean means:
the average number
For example, the mean of 1 & 3 is 2.
More generally, the mean of n numbers is computed by dividing the sum of the numbers by n; for example, the mean of 1, 2, and 6
= (1+2+6) / 3
= 9 / 3
= 3
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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although
Although she knows a lot about the business, she still has a lot to learn from her mother.
although = even though (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally although means:
even though; or but

(Used to connect contrasting ideas. At the start of a sentence, other synonyms could include words and phrases such as however, yet, all the same, on the other hand, still, even so, and nonetheless.)
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Library59 uses in 10 avg bks
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thus
Increase law enforcement reduced the supply of the drug and thus increased the cost, but the improvement was partially offset when the increased cost encouraged more supply.
thus = therefore (for that reason)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of thus means:
therefore (for that reason; or what follows is so because of what was just said)
Word Statistics
Library25 uses in 10 avg bks
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therefore
Kim is taller than Ashley. Ashley is taller than Anna. Therefore, Kim is taller than Anna.
therefore = for that reason
DefinitionGenerally therefore means:
for that reason (what follows is so because of what was just said)
Word Statistics
Library25 uses in 10 avg bks
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dwell
as in:
a modest dwelling
There is a second dwelling unit on the property.
dwelling = a home in which someone lives
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dwelling means:
a house or shelter in which someone lives
Word Statistics
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intrigue
2 meanings
as in:
she was intrigued
She was intrigued by his surprising comment.
intrigued = interested, curious, or fascinated
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intrigue means:
cause to be interested, curious, or fascinated
Word Statistics
Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
involved in intrigue
I try to avoid political intrigue.
intrigue = secret schemes or plots
DefinitionGenerally this sense of intrigue means:
a secret scheme or plot
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confide
She confided in her parents.
confided = told with the understanding that what was told would be kept secret
DefinitionGenerally confide means:
tell with the understanding that what is told will be kept secret
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Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
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apprehension
3 meanings
as in:
apprehension about finals
She looked around the examination room with apprehension.
apprehension = worry about what is to come
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as in:
apprehension of the criminal
The tip led to the criminal's apprehension in Mexico.
apprehension = the capture of a criminal
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as in:
conscious apprehension is limited
Apprehension precedes comprehension.
apprehension = to understand

or:

in psychology and philosophy:  immediate awareness prior to analysis and judgment
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inquiry
They created a commission of inquiry to look into the matter.
inquiry = investigation
DefinitionGenerally inquiry means:
the act of asking a question or performing an investigation
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Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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lament
She lamented the loss.
lamented = expressed grief or regret
DefinitionGenerally lament means:
to express grief or regret
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petty
2 meanings
as in:
a petty crime
She handles petty crimes.
petty = of less importance
DefinitionGenerally this sense of petty means:
of less importance — at times implying insignificance
Word Statistics
Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
don't be petty
I'm disgusted with their small-minded pettiness.
pettiness = focusing on an unimportant flaw; or attempting to make someone suffer for an unimportant wrong
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indulge
She indulges her children more than is good for them.
indulges = allows them to get their way (gives into their desire)
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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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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indulgent
Indulgent parents risk spoiling their children.
indulgent = treating with extra kindness or leniency (in this case, not demanding enough of the children)
DefinitionGenerally indulgent means:
to treat with extra kindness or tolerance
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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variation
2 meanings
as in:
a variation on a theme
Scientists are worried about a new variation of the virus.
variation = version (something that is different than others of its type)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of variation means:
something that is different than others of its type (synonyms could include: adaptation, version, alternate form)
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
a 60% variation
They found a variation of 600% in the cost of having a baby—largely determined by which hospital was selected for delivery.
variation = difference
DefinitionGenerally this sense of variation means:
difference — typically between things of the same type, or within a limited range
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nostalgia
The music makes me feel nostalgic.
nostalgic = happiness that come with the memory of good times combined with a hint of sadness that those times are over
Word Statistics
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mentor
Each new employee is matched with a mentor.
mentor = someone who guides and advises another who is less experienced
DefinitionGenerally mentor means:
someone who guides and advises another who is less experienced; or the act of providing such guidance
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adversary
She is his greatest adversary.
adversary = opponent
DefinitionGenerally adversary means:
an opponent
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eminent
She is an eminent scholar.
eminent = standing above others in attainment or reputation
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austere
He took a vow of silence and leads an austere life at the monastery.
austere = lacking luxury (and stern)
DefinitionGenerally austere means:
a notable absence of luxury, comfort, or decoration

or:

of a person:  stern in manner; or practicing great self-denial
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monopoly
When you have a monopoly you can raise prices.
monopoly = a situation where you are the only supplier of a good or service
DefinitionGenerally monopoly means:
the only supplier of a good or service; or a market with only one supplier
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endow
She endowed the foundation with a million dollars.
endowed = gave
DefinitionGenerally endow means:
give something of value to — usually a significant amount of money or something of financial value, but sometimes qualities or abilities too
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controversial
The issue of the death penalty is highly controversial in some states.
controversial = tends to arouse strong disagreement
DefinitionGenerally controversial means:
tending to arouse strong disagreement
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mitigate
Don't judge her so harshly until you consider the mitigating circumstances.
mitigating = making less harmful or unpleasant
DefinitionGenerally mitigate means:
make less harmful or unpleasant
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definitive
It is the definitive book on selecting a college.
definitive = beyond question; or the best possible; or the final answer or solution
DefinitionGenerally definitive means:
beyond question or the best possible or the final answer or solution
Word Statistics
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galvanize
2 meanings
as in:
galvanized into action
The event is intended to galvanize support for the fight against man-made global warming and climate change.
galvanize = to stimulate to action
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as in:
galvanized steel
The screws were supposed to be galvanized, but they rusted anyway.
galvanized = coated with zinc
DefinitionGenerally this sense of galvanize means:
to cover steel or iron with zinc
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paramount
The children's well-being is paramount.
paramount = most important
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monetary
I don't do this job for monetary reward.
monetary = money
DefinitionGenerally monetary means:
relating to or involving money

or:

relating to a nation's money supply
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satiate
The candy satiated my craving for sugar.
satiated = satisfied
DefinitionGenerally satiate means:
to satisfy a hunger; or fill to satisfaction (typically said of hunger for food, but can be said of anything desired—such as of knowledge or sensual pleasure)
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abysmal
The refugee camp has abysmal living conditions.
abysmal = very bad
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authenticate
How did they authenticate that it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci?
authenticate = prove or show
DefinitionGenerally authenticate means:
establish that something is real or legitimate
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appeal
2 meanings
as in:
appealed for help
The Justice Department filed an appeal today in the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the lower court's ruling that...
appeal = request that a lower court decision be overturned
DefinitionGenerally this sense of appeal means:
a request or the act of asking — sometimes specifically that a decision be overturned
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Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
appeals to youthful tastes
She has an appealing smile.
appealing = attractive
DefinitionGenerally this sense of appeal means:
attractiveness or desirability; or to be attractive or desirable
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neutral
5 meanings
as in:
played at a neutral site
Switzerland remained neutral during the Second World War.
neutral = not taking either side
DefinitionGenerally this sense of neutral means:
not favoring any side in a contest, war, disagreement, or other dispute
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as in:
a carbon-neutral building
All the bathrooms in the dorm are gender neutral.
neutral = not affected (in this case, bathrooms can be used by any gender)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of neutral means:
not affected by; or does not affect
The expression [x] neutral means two things do not affect each other. More specifically, it means one of two things depending upon context:
  • something is not affected by x — for example "a revenue neutral tax plan" does not affect the amount of revenue collected. (It might raise taxes in one area and reduce them in another so that the total tax revenue is unchanged.)
  • something does not affect x — for example "a carbon neutral home" is a home that does not affect carbon. Part of its design might include using solar energy to control climate rather than burning fossil fuels.
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as in:
decorated in neutral colors
The painting would look best in a room of neutral colors, so it will stand out.
neutral = bland (not striking in appearance)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of neutral means:
bland (not striking in appearance or impression)
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as in:
Put the car in neutral.
Put the car in neutral and we'll push it.
neutral = with the gears unengaged
DefinitionGenerally this sense of neutral means:
gears are not engaged; or (metaphorically) nothing is happening
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less common specialized meanings
Protons have a positive charge. Electrons have a negative charge. Neutrons are neutral.
neutral = not positive or negative
DefinitionGenerally this sense of neutral means:
Specialized senses typically mean that something does not belong to either of two other opposite alternatives; such as:
  • chemistry:  not acidic or alkaline
  • physics:  not with a positive charge or with a negative charge
  • electric circuitry:  with no voltage or electrical charge (though that is an informal simplification that would be dangerous if assumed in fact)
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appreciate
as in:
I appreciate her efforts.
I appreciate the importance of this decision.
appreciate = recognize
DefinitionGenerally this sense of appreciate means:
to recognize the value or importance of

and/or:

to be grateful for
Word Statistics
Library13 uses in 10 avg bks
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