President Obama's Commencement Address 2016

President Obama gave the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey this year on May 15, 2016. The speech addressed how the country has confronted our political problems with the intelligence we have derived from our educations, which will help us tell the difference between lofty promises with nothing behind them and vows we can keep. Here are twenty seven vocabulary words from President Obama's address.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. prioritize
    assign a status in order of importance or urgency
    It determines what policies they prioritize.
  2. elitist
    someone who believes in rule by a high-status group
    ... But when our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem.
  3. globalization
    growth to a worldwide scale
    ... global supply chains, and cargo ships that crisscross oceans, and online commerce that can render borders obsolete. And a lot of folks have legitimate concerns with the way globalization has progressed -- that's one of the changes that's been taking place -- jobs shipped overseas, trade deals that sometimes put workers and businesses at a disadvantage.
  4. unencumbered
    free of anything that impedes or is burdensome
    ...it’s just made us more confident in our ignorance. We assume whatever is on the web must be true. We search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. Opinions masquerade as facts.
  5. predisposition
    an inclination to interpret statements in a particular way
    We assume whatever is on the web must be true. We search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. Opinions masquerade as facts. The wildest conspiracy theories are taken for gospel.
  6. arc
    a continuous portion of a circle
    But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes.
  7. charismatic
    possessing an extraordinary ability to attract
    They didn’t happen because some charismatic leader got everybody suddenly to agree on everything.
  8. loophole
    an ambiguity that makes it possible to evade an obligation
    And just as America is better, the world is better than when I graduated. Since I graduated, an Iron Curtain fell, apartheid ended. There’s more democracy. We virtually eliminated certain diseases like polio. We’ve cut extreme poverty drastically. We've cut infant mortality by an enormous amount.
  9. inflection
    deviation from a straight or normal course
    It depends on us, on the choices we make, particularly at certain inflection points in history; particularly when big changes are happening and everything seems up for grabs.
  10. hallmark
    a mark on an article of trade to indicate its origin
    But because of dreamers and innovators and strivers and activists, progress has been this nation’s hallmark.
  11. nihilism
    complete denial of established authority and institutions
    When overseas states start falling apart, they become breeding grounds for terrorists and ideologies of nihilism and despair that ultimately can reach our shores. When developing countries don’t have functioning health systems, epidemics like Zika or Ebola can spread and threaten Americans, too.
  12. disparaging
    expressive of low opinion
    Building walls won't do that. It won't boost our economy, and it won’t enhance our security either. Isolating or disparaging Muslims, suggesting that they should be treated differently when it comes to entering this country -- that is not just a betrayal of our values...
  13. apartheid
    a social policy of racial segregation
    And just as America is better, the world is better than when I graduated. Since I graduated, an Iron Curtain fell, apartheid ended. There’s more democracy. We virtually eliminated certain diseases like polio. We’ve cut extreme poverty drastically. We've cut infant mortality by an enormous amount..
  14. hone
    refine or make more perfect or effective
    And by doing so, you’ll strengthen your own position, and you’ll hone your arguments.
  15. contentious
    showing an inclination to disagree
    Progress in America has been hard and contentious, and sometimes bloody.
  16. inertia
    the tendency of something to stay in rest or motion
    You’ll look at things with fresher eyes, unencumbered by the biases and blind spots and inertia and general crankiness of your parents and grandparents and old heads like me.
  17. sporadic
    recurring in scattered or unpredictable instances
    But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes.
  18. epidemic
    a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
    When developing countries don’t have functioning health systems, epidemics like Zika or Ebola can spread and threaten Americans, too. And a wall won't stop that.
  19. beneficiary
    the recipient of funds or other advantages
    We are beneficiaries of the labor and the grit and the courage of generations who came before.
  20. disproportionate
    out of proper balance
    Yes, special interests and lobbyists have disproportionate access to the corridors of power.
  21. discerning
    having or revealing keen insight and good judgment
    ...we have access to more information than at any time in human history, at a touch of a button. But, ironically, the flood of information hasn’t made us more discerning of the truth. In some ways, it’s just made us more confident in our ignorance. We assume whatever is on the web must be true.
  22. skepticism
    doubt about the truth of something
    You have a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom.
  23. cynicism
    a cynical feeling of distrust
    Cynicism is so easy, and cynics don’t accomplish much.
  24. bias
    a partiality preventing objective consideration of an issue
    You’ll look at things with fresher eyes, unencumbered by the biases and blind spots and inertia and general crankiness of your parents and grandparents and old heads like me.
  25. embedded
    enclosed firmly in a surrounding mass
    ...escape superstition, and sectarianism, and tribalism, and no-nothingness. They believed in rational thought and experimentation, and the capacity of informed citizens to master our own fates. That is embedded in our constitutional design. That spirit informed our inventors and our explorers, the Edisons and the Wright Brothers, and the George Washington Carvers and the Grace Hoppers...
  26. brunt
    the main part, especially of a force or shock
    If we don’t act, if we don't follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we've been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe.
  27. lobbyist
    someone who is employed to persuade how legislators vote
    Yes, special interests and lobbyists have disproportionate access to the corridors of power.

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