This Week in Words: September 10 - 16, 2017

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. Recovery was a big theme this week. After another major hurricane hit the U.S. last week, leaving many with apocalyptic visions, the resurgence of a battered but not defeated people began. Perhaps those affected can draw some inspiration from the incandescent play of two tennis stars who were both counted out for different reasons, but who each managed to vanquish their opponents. After a very bad summer at the movie box office, Hollywood hopes to recover, too, and the juggernaut that is "It" may help in that effort. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. apocalyptic
    of or relating to a catastrophe
    An apocalyptic forecast had already forced one of the largest evacuations in American history. - The New York Times (September 10, 2017)
    Hurricane Irma hit Florida this week. It was slightly weaker than expected, but still caused a tremendous amount of damage, leaving almost 6 million homes and businesses without power. Fortunately the death toll has been low, but thousands of Floridians will be recovering from this storm for a long time.
  2. resurgence
    bringing again into activity and prominence
    Nadal, back at No. 1 at age 31, underscored his resurgence by defeating Kevin Anderson of South Africa, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, in the United States Open singles final on Sunday. - The New York Times ( September 10, 2017)
    Rafael Nadal won the U.S. Open tennis tournament this week. Several sports pundits had said that Nadal's career was effectively over, because 31 is old for an athlete, but Nadal has proven them wrong with his recent success. The win is Nadal's 16th Grand Slam title.
  3. incandescent
    characterized by ardent emotion, intensity, or brilliance
    Stephens, a 24-year-old with an incandescent grin and a potent blend of offensive and defensive skills, was ranked 957th early last month after having returned to the tour in July. - The New York Times (September 10, 2017)
    Sloane Stephens won the Women's U.S. Open tennis tournament this week. Not bad considering that she could not stand up until May 16th, as a consequence of foot surgery. This is Stephens' first Grand Slam title. She is considered by many to be a future star in the world of women's tennis.
  4. juggernaut
    a massive inexorable force
    The horror movie “It” arrived as a cultural juggernaut over the weekend, smashing September box office records with an eye-popping $117.2 million in estimated North American ticket sales and ending an alarmingly slow period at multiplexes.
    - The New York Times ( September 10, 2017)
    The fact that "It" stars a horrifying clown comes as no surprise. The phrase "scary clown" is redundant — all clowns are scary. Who trusts clowns, with their maniacal grins and their huge shoes? And the trick where they pull scarves out of their mouths? Disturbing. Our opinion: all clowns are frightening. Hollywood is baking on it, too.
  5. breach
    an opening, especially a gap in a dike or fortification
    Equifax, the credit scoring company that suffered a data breach that impacted as many as 143 million Americans, is blaming a vendor software flaw in its online databases. -
    ( September 11, 2017)
    It was revealed last week that hackers exploited a flaw in Equifax's online databases to obtain data on users. Equifax is a credit scoring company. According to a statement, "the impacted information includes names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and, in some instances, drivers’ license numbers." This week Equifax announced that they are suspending their credit protection fees for thirty days after an outcry from the affected consumers.
  6. vanquish
    defeat in a competition, race, or conflict
    "America cannot be intimidated." He said those who try are destined to join "the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle." - (September 11, 2017)
    President Trump spoke on the sixteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this week. By invoking " vanquished foes," President Trump is vowing to utterly and completely defeat those who would threaten the U.S. or engage in terrorism. Vanquish is not a word one uses lightly, nor does it refer to just barely edging someone out in a contest. Vanquish implies the complete annihilation of the other side.
  7. preternatural
    surpassing the ordinary or normal
    And, in a fulfillment of Ms. Sands’s prediction, he said the cats, which have become as much of a draw for some tourists as the house’s history, had seemed preternaturally attuned to the storm. - The New York Times (September 11, 2017)
    A strange but ultimately uplifting story arose out of the wreckage left by Hurricane Irma. Author Ernest Hemingway had an estate in Key West, Florida which he shared with a white, six-toed cat. That cat's descendants have now grown to 53 in number, many with extra toes. Although the house itself was hit hard by the hurricane, the cats survived because they sensed danger and knew to come into the house, where some workers who had stayed behind looked after them.
  8. indicative
    pointing out or revealing clearly
    Abrams was seemingly done with Star Wars after finishing The Force Awakens, so this announcement comes as a surprise, though it is indicative of Lucasfilm’s new interest in making safe choices, directing-wise. - ( September 12, 2017)
    It was announced this week that J.J. Abrams will direct another Star Wars movie, replacing the fired Colin Trevorrow on Episode IX of the series. Abrams will rewrite the script as well. With Ron Howard taking over direction of the Han Solo movie and now this piece of news, it is a troubled time for new films in the saga. Hopefully, the Force will be with these directors.
  9. ingratiate
    gain favor with somebody by deliberate efforts
    It was in this role that Hicks would ingratiate herself to the future first family of the United States. - (September 12, 2017)
    Heather Hicks will become the third person to serve as Communications Director for the Trump administration. Hicks had served in this role on an interim basis, but she has now been promoted and the job is entirely hers. The administration is hoping that Hicks brings some stability to the position after Anthony Scaramucci spent only ten days in this position this past July.
  10. bauble
    cheap showy jewelry or ornament
    The iPhone wasn’t just a shiny bauble. It was useful. It could mimic just about any other gadget you had, from your Game Boy to your flashlight. - The New York Times (September 12, 2017)
    Apple presented the new iPhones this week, including one model with facial recognition technology that will cost $1000. Let's put aside whether the new iPhone will be worth the money or not. Using a scan of your face to open something up is ridiculously cool. Facial recognition is in every sci-fi movie ever, and the fact that Apple has made it a reality almost makes up for the fact that it's 2017 and there are no Jet Packs. The turn of the 21st Century was supposed to bring Jet Packs!
  11. provocation
    a means of arousing or stirring to action
    At a hastily convened press conference, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the launch an "excessive provocation."
    - (September 14, 2017)
    North Korea has fired another missile over northern Japan, according to South Korean officials. North Korea previously fired a missile over Japan on August 29th. It is estimated that this latest missile was capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam, which North Korea has threatened in the past. The United Nations just recently passed additional sanctions against North Korea which these missile tests violate.
  12. parameter
    a constant in the equation of a curve that can be varied
    That appeared to confirm the broad parameters of an agreement that Democratic leaders announced had been reached Wednesday over dinner at the White House.
    -The New York Times (September 14, 2017)
    President Trump reached an agreement with members of the Senate which protects the "dreamer" population. The dreamers are illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They were in danger of being deported when the Trump administration recently announced that it was rescinding the Obama administration's executive order known as DACA. President Trump gave Congress six months to come up with a plan, and it appears they are on their way to doing just that.
  13. device
    an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
    Britain was hit by a terrorist attack on Friday morning, when a crude device exploded on a crowded London Underground train, injuring commuters, sowing panic, disrupting service and drawing a heavy response from armed police officers and emergency workers. - The New York Times (September 14, 2017)
    The London subway was hit by a terrorist attack during the busy Friday commute. No one was killed, but 22 people were reported injured in the blast and the ensuing panic as terrified commuters hurried out of the train. It was the fifth major terrorist attack in Britain this year.
  14. plunge
    dash violently or with great speed or impetuosity
    NASA scientists just received their last message from the Cassini spacecraft, which plunged into Saturn early Friday morning. Those final bits of data signal the end of one of the most successful planetary science missions in history. - The Washington Post (September 14, 2017)
    After 13 years in orbit, the Cassini spacecraft is no more. Data received from Cassini's transmissions revealed the structure of Saturn's rings and exposed two moons — Titan and Enceladus. Methane gas and water have been discovered on these moons, making them the focus of future research on life forms in outer space.

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