This Week in Words: August 28 - September 1

No time to scour the headlines or watch the news? No problem! We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, debated, and discussed this week. This week we were all affected, either directly or indirectly, by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Torrential rains pounded the Gulf Coast with no reprieve expected until late in the week. With so much rain and so much flooding, the infrastructure of communities begins to erode and life for those in the path of the storm changes forever. Also causing grave concern this week was more provocative action by North Korea. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. reprieve
    the act of postponing or remitting punishment
    The reason Arpaio’s reprieve is a slap in the face to the courts is that the crime originated in the courts. - (August 26, 2017)
    As he forecast he would last week, this week President Trump granted a federal pardon to controversial immigration figure Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was accused of detaining suspected illegal immigrants in poor conditions in tent cities in his home state of Arizona. Arpaio was a major Trump supporter during the campaign and is also a proponent of the President's proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.
  2. torrential
    relating to or resulting from the action of a downpour
    On Sunday the powerful system...pounded the region with torrential rains that were expected to continue for days, causing catastrophic floods... - The New York Times (August 27, 2017)
    The big news of the week was the catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey. The storm battered the Gulf Coast of the country and dumped a record amount of rainfall for a single storm onto places like the city of Houston. There was massive flooding as a result of all the rain, and thousand of people lost their homes and their possessions. There have been about thirty casualties thus far. It is estimated that it will take years for the most severely affected cities to recover from the hurricane.
  3. farce
    a comedy characterized by broad satire
    Many purists saw the contest as a farce, nothing more than an exhibition. - The New York Times (August 27, 2017)
    The big sporting event of the week was the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor. Many thought that the fight was ridiculous because McGregor is not a boxer; he is a former MMA fighter, used to kicking and eye-gouging his opponent. McGregor did manage to stick to using only his fists, and was really no challenge for the seasoned Mayweather, Jr. who won by technical knockout in the tenth round.
  4. ouster
    the act of ejecting someone or forcing them out
    In short, he was fired, as many people predicted he would be following Steve Bannon’s ouster from the White House. (August 26, 2017)
    Another White House staffer left his post this week. Sebastian Gorka, was either fired or resigned from his position, depending on which story you believe. It is unclear exactly what Gorka did for President Trump, but he often appeared on television talk shows defending the President. It is unknown whether Gorka will continue to appear on television in this role now that he no longer works in the West Wing.
  5. takeover
    a change by sale or merger in the controlling interest of a corporation
    The retailer is hoping the takeover by Seattle-based Amazon will help it shed its "Whole Paycheck" nickname.Reuters (Aug 29, 2017)
    In business news this week, Amazon's takeover of Whole Foods became official. Amazon celebrated by lowering prices on some items in the store, like avocados and rotisserie chickens. The price reductions are an effort to show that things are going to change under Amazon's leadership, including (they hope) the image of the food store being so pricey food that it earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck."
  6. tedious
    so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness
    Kids don't learn the way they used to," says Keven Christian of Marion County Schools. "And making them do meaningless or tedious homework assignments every night just really doesn't contribute to their learning."
    - (August 28, 2017)
    Our favorite kind of story comes to us from Florida this week, where one county has banned homework. In place of worksheets regarded by some as just busy work, the schools have asked that parents read with their children 20 minutes per night. We’re hoping this catches on, since reading is fundamental in every school subject ( including math, science and history). Any assignment that promotes literacy and spending special time with a parents sounds like a good thing.
  7. contentious
    involving or likely to cause controversy
    The selection capped a contentious search process as the ride-hailing company seeks to move past a turbulent period. - The New York Times (August 27, 2017)
    Uber has chosen a new head executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, who used to lead the internet travel site Expedia. Scandal and disorder have plagued Uber for months, and Mr. Khosrowshahi's job will be to right the ship. Maybe after he gets the company's act together, he can tell me why my passenger rating is so low — I'm great at small talk! I swear, people want to hear about how many fried dumplings I can fit into my mouth at one time...
  8. embassy
    a building where diplomats live or work
    The Trump administration ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two diplomatic annexes, in New York and Washington, retaliating against Russia’s order for the United States to reduce its embassy staff in Moscow ... - The New York Times (August 27, 2017)
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in a phone call on Thursday morning that the U.S. is ejecting several Russian diplomats and closing their offices. The Trump administration explained that the move was purely reciprocal, and was not intended to escalate tensions between the United States and Russia.
  9. provocative
    serving or tending to excite or stimulate
    North Korea carried out one of its most provocative missile tests in recent years early Tuesday morning, hurling a ballistic missile directly over Japan that prompted the government in Tokyo to warn residents in its path to take cover. - The New York Times (August 28, 2017)
    There was more frightening North Korea news this week. The nation fired a missile over U.S. ally Japan. Earlier this month, North Korea successfully miniaturized a nuclear device and threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam. Firing over Japan could be seen as exactly the kind of provocative action President Trump recently warned North Korea not to pursue.
  10. infrastructure
    the basic features of a system or organization
    The president on Monday pledged to quickly pass an appropriations bill to deal with the massive damage to private property and public infrastructure. - The New York Times (August 28, 2017)
    President Trump and the First Lady flew to Texas to view the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. The president has already declared parts of the Gulf Coast disaster areas and pledged federal relief funds to help in the recovery effort.

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