This Week in Words: July 9 - 15, 2017

No time to scour the headlines or watch the news? No problem! We’ve rounded up the top ten words heard, read, debated, and discussed this week. The news this week is best compared to a three-ring political circus, or perhaps a zoo. In addition to the media spectacle that was the meeting between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and their intractable problems, the alleged Russian election tampering story grew, and now implicates Donald Trump, Jr. in possible collusion with the Russians. There was a widely circulated story about a very old hippopotamus, as well as news that a popular felt frog is getting a new speaking voice. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. agitprop
    political propaganda communicated via art and literature
    In January, the intelligence community found that Putin had ordered an elaborate effort to propel Trump to the presidency, which was partly accomplished by employing professional trolls to flood social media with pro-Trump agitprop, and disseminating "fake news" aimed at undermining then-candidate Hillary Clinton and boosting Trump.
    - Business Insider
    From the Russian words for "agitation" and "propaganda," agitprop is usually associated with posters and other pieces of artwork. In this case, however, the campaign of misinformation was carried out via Twitter. Twitter always has the potential to be a minefield of exaggeration and falsehood, but when you add in the president's tweets and international intrigue, it truly becomes a circus-like spectacle.
  2. liberated
    free from traditional social restraints
    The government’s record in other liberated cities is at best patchy.The Guardian (Jul 10, 2017)
    It was reported this week that the Islamic State was defeated in Mosul, a major loss for the terrorist group ISIS and a victory for the countries waging the military battle against it. It is too soon to tell what this victory will mean in the long term, because other groups could seize control, but in the short term this event is something to celebrate.
  3. intractable
    difficult to manage or mold
    “The Presidents rightly focused on how do we move forward from what may simply be an intractable disagreement at this point.”Time (Jul 8, 2017)
    This quote is from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and refers to a disagreement between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, who can't agree about Russian meddling in the presidential election. Putin refused to confirm the conclusions several U.S. intelligence agencies have reached. The President just wants to move on. I neglected to put the cap back on the toothpaste last week and we're still stuck on that in my house, so good luck moving on from an "alleged international incident."
  4. proxy
    a person authorized to act for another
    In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.—
    The New York Times
    Donald Trump, Jr. was drawn into the controversy surrounding the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia when it was revealed that he took a meeting with a lawyer who had connections to, and was a proxy for, the Russian government.
  5. whimsical
    indulging in or influenced by the imagination
    In the final round, Judge’s drives visited an array of ballpark destinations — a staircase, bushes, the seats above left, center and right field, and, twice, the garishly whimsical home run sculpture that towers above left-center field.
    The New York Times
    Yankee Aaron Judge won the Home Run Derby this week, part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Week. Judge hit 47 home runs during the derby. Although whimsical is not a word usually associated with baseball, the Marlins have a statue that comes alive whenever the home team hits a homer. Judge is a good reason to root for the Yankees, if you can overcome the other reasons to hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.
  6. humane
    marked by concern with the alleviation of suffering
    It is with great sadness for us to announce that Donna, the world's oldest living Nile hippopotamus in captivity, was humanely euthanised this morning due to her declining quality of life caused by her debilitating severe arthritis," Amos Morris, the zoo's director, said in a statement on Wednesday.
    The Telegraph
    Donna the Hippopotamus was 62 years old and a mainstay at the Manila Zoo. The average hippo life span is between 40 and 50 years old, so Donna defied the odds. To put this in perspective, the human life expectancy in North America is 77, so you'd have to live to be 89 to match Donna's longevity. She will be missed.
  7. collusion
    agreement on a secret plot
    The Trump team is under investigation over alleged Russian collusion during last year's presidential campaign.BBC (Jul 11, 2017)
    Collusion involves two or more parties getting together in secret to accomplish something underhanded and, well, wrong. You can't collude with your brother to buy your mom a birthday gift, or with your friends to raise money for charity. The goals of collusion have to be more nefarious than that. The Trump campaign is accused of colluding with the Russian government to swing the election Trump's way, which, if true, would be nefarious indeed.
  8. doppelganger
    a ghostly double that haunts its living counterpart
    Vogel previously voiced Constantine, Kermit’s evil doppelgänger, in the 2014 movie Muppets Most Wanted. Elsewhere, he tackled classic characters like Floyd, The Count, and Lew Zealand.
    - Entertainment Weekly
    It was revealed this week that Kermit the Frog is getting a new voice. The previous voice has decided to step down and has been replaced by a Muppeteer named Matt Vogel. This is a much easier transition to adjust to than the previous one, when Jim Henson's untimely death forced someone else to step in and bring to life The Muppets' signature character. Voices may come and go, but we can only hope that Kermit lasts forever.
  9. libretto
    the words of an opera or musical play
    The new book is billed as a “behind-the-scenes” account of the making of the Tony-winning musical, written by the creative team of Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, and will include personal memories, photographs, unreleased lyrics, and the Dear Evan Hansen libretto.
    This year's Tony winner for Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, is releasing a book all about the show. The book will include the complete lyrics, or libretto of the musical. Libretto comes from Italian for "little book" but with all its popularity, there will probably be nothing little about the Dear Evan Hansen book. Look for it to be very successful as a must-have souvenir.
  10. incriminate
    suggest that someone is guilty
    The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning,” Goldstone writes, “and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
    Donald Trump has been suggesting Hillary Clinton's guilt, or seeking to incriminate her since he first entered the presidential race. This week saw the revelation that Donald Trump, Jr. met with a Russian lawyer who promised to provide incriminating information on Mrs. Clinton. No one knows what effect this will have on the Trump-Russia investigation, but we're under The Big Top, and it should be interesting.

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