President Obama's Farewell Address

President Obama delivered his farewell address on January 10, 2017. The speech detailed what President Obama holds to be the core components that make up American democracy and outlined what he considers to be the continuing threats, located both home and abroad. It was also a speech rich in gratitude, both personal and professional, as President Obama prepares to leave office on January 20, 2017. Here are 28 vocabulary words from the speech.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. authoritarianism
    government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator
    For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases...
  2. corrosive
    capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles.
    Corrosive is used here metaphorically to mean simply harmful or destructive, not involving a chemical action
  3. prioritize
    assign a status in order of importance or urgency
    Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them.
  4. hallmark
    a distinctive characteristic or attribute
    In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next.
  5. polarization
    having a relation between two opposite attributes
    While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
  6. stratification
    the act of arranging persons into classes or levels
    The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.
  7. affiliation
    the act of becoming formally connected or joined
    Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
  8. automation
    the act of implementing the control of equipment
    It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
  9. pandemic
    an outbreak of disease that is geographically widespread
    I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks.
  10. altruistic
    showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others
    This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country.
  11. divisive
    dissenting with the majority opinion
    For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.
    Here divisive doesn't just refer to dissent but a harmful splitting into factions based on disagreement.
  12. primacy
    the state of being first in importance
    It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies...
  13. demonstrable
    capable of being proved
    And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.
  14. partisanship
    an inclination to favor one group or view over alternatives
    The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.
  15. enclave
    an enclosed territory that is culturally distinct
    After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.
  16. solidarity
    a union of interests or purposes among members of a group
    But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
  17. refugee
    an exile who flees for safety
    It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize.
  18. demographic
    a statistic characterizing human populations
    A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well.
  19. rancor
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent.
  20. contentious
    involving or likely to cause controversy
    The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody.
  21. vigilant
    carefully observant or attentive
    ...and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden.
  22. makeshift
    done or made using whatever is available
    It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.
  23. specter
    a mental representation of some haunting experience
    A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well.
  24. enfeeble
    make weak
    ...we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
  25. creed
    any system of principles or beliefs
    But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.
  26. cynicism
    a cynical feeling of distrust
    While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
  27. malevolent
    wishing or appearing to wish evil to others
    We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent.
  28. trek
    any long and difficult trip
    It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.

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