This Week in Words: September 25 - October 1, 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. Newton tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This week was all about dealing with reactions. Reacting to criticism of the travel ban he first proposed in January, President Trump instituted an even more rigorous one. As a reaction to their leader being dubbed "Rocket Man," North Korea escalated its rhetoric. NFL players and owners rebuked the president's characterization of them. Finally, after blistering, unrelenting criticism, Equifax's president retired, and the Guggenheim museum cancelled part of a controversial exhibition. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.
Read more...

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. rigorous
    rigidly accurate; allowing no deviation from a standard
    But officials said his new action was the result of a deliberative, rigorous examination of security risks that was designed to avoid the chaotic rollout of his first ban. - The New York Times ( September 24, 2017)
    President Trump announced a new travel ban this week, which would deny people from certain countries entry into the United States. The president's original version of the travel ban, which was announced in January, set off a firestorm of controversy. This current measure is actually much more strict, so expect a lot of debate about this incarnation of the ban as well.
  2. escalate
    increase in extent or intensity
    North Korea’s foreign minister escalated tensions with the United States on Monday, saying that President Trump’s threatening comments about the country and its leadership were “a declaration of war” and that North Korea had the right to shoot down American warplanes, even if they are not in North Korean air space. - The New York Times (September 25, 2017)
    The frightening exchange of threats between North Korea and the United States continued this week. In response to President Trump calling Kim Jung-un "Rocket Man" last week, North Korea's foreign minister asserted the view that his country has the right to shoot down American warplanes, whether they are technically in North Korean airspace or not. This is the foreign policy equivalent of your younger brother screaming, "Mine!" over and over, laying claim to everything he sees.
  3. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    What had been a modest round of anthem demonstrations this season led by a handful of African-American players mushroomed and morphed into a nationwide, diverse rebuke to Mr. Trump, with even some of his staunchest supporters in the N.F.L., including several owners, joining in or condemning Mr. Trump for divisiveness. - The New York Times ( September 24, 2017)
    Sports is usually a haven away from the political world, but politics and sports collided this week. President Trump suggested that any football player who would protest before a game during the National Anthem should be fired, and he also called those who would protest names. This Sunday, as a rebuke to the President's position, entire teams engaged in silent protests and displays of unity before their games. It remains to be seen if these demonstrations will continue.
  4. pragmatic
    concerned with practical matters
    Her achievement is not just an exercise in political endurance, but also a triumph for her governing formula: pragmatic, centrist, fair. - usatoday.com (September 25, 2017)
    Angela Merkel was re-elected this week as the chancellor of Germany. She has been in charge of that nation for 12 years and is seen as a steadying force in a world full of uncertainty and impulsive leadership. The news wasn't all positive for Merkel, however, as Germany's far-right party, Alternative for Germany, made some gains in government in this election. There hasn't been a far-right presence in Germany's parliament since just after World War II.
  5. blistering
    harsh or corrosive in tone
    The company faced a blistering outcry from lawmakers and the public for failing to protect the sensitive data and for a response that many found lackluster. - The New York Times (September 26, 2017)
    After its data breach several weeks ago, Equifax president Richard Smith has retired. It is unclear what the his compensation will be, because the board of directors is considering "retroactively firing him for cause," which would impact his stock. Still, Smith has an 18.4 million dollar pension, and has been banking a two- to three- million dollar bonus for a few years. He agreed to forgo a bonus this year, when he oversaw the exposure of the sensitive information of 143 million customers.
  6. decimate
    kill in large numbers
    Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with Irma-level winds, drenched the island with Harvey-level flooding, crippled communications, decimated buildings and damaged a dam that puts downstream residents at risk of catastrophe. - cnn.com (September 26, 2017)
    The island of Puerto Rico is just beginning to emerge from the impact of Hurricane Maria. It is projected that it will be months before the power is restored, and it has been reported that the people on the island are starting to run low on clean water and gasoline. President Trump has approved disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, and hopefully the recovery can begin in earnest in the next few weeks.
  7. unrelenting
    not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
    The museum, in Manhattan, made the decision after it had come under unrelenting pressure from animal-rights supporters and critics over works in the exhibition, “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World.” - The New York Times (September 26, 2017)
    Protests gathered to rally against an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York that used live animals. The protestors were victorious, and that part of the exhibition was shut down. In general, I like to keep my zoo experiences and my museum experiences separate. I would like the zoo to smell more like a museum, though...
  8. brazen
    unrestrained by convention or propriety
    The case of the Javanka domain is brazen for its mimickry of Clinton’s actions at the State Department, right down to the use of a domain specifically for the family. - theatlantic.com ( September 25, 2017)
    The lack of security for email was a big issue in the 2016 campaign. Then-candidate Trump mentioned it a lot, and it was a reason for the "Lock Her Up!" chant at the Republican National Convention, aimed at Hillary Clinton. It turns out that many of Trumps close allies also use personal email to conduct private, perhaps sensitive, government business. No one has seen the emails, so just how sensitive remains a mystery.
  9. buoy
    keep afloat
    Moore’s primary victory buoyed anti-establishment Republicans who have been trying for years to defeat another incumbent in a primary. - politico.com (September 26, 2017)
    There was a special Republican primary for a vacant Senate seat in Alabama this week. What made the primary interesting was that the president supported one candidate, Luther Strange, while other prominent Republicans who often side with the president, like the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon, supported the eventual winner Roy Moore. Roy Moore will face off against Democrat Doug Jones in December.
  10. pivotal
    being of crucial importance
    The decision came less than 24 hours after a pivotal Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, declared firm opposition to the repeal proposal, all but ensuring that Republican leaders would be short of the votes they needed. - The New York Times (September 26, 2017)
    Another bill designed to "repeal and replace" The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is known, has failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote. This new proposal was killed by the objections of three Republican Senators: John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Colllins of Maine. It is rumored that the Senate will now move on from the health care issue and tackle tax reform.
  11. demarcate
    separate clearly, as if by boundaries
    It is the most significant change yet to a rigidly conservative social order in Saudi Arabia that has strictly demarcated gender roles, and severely limits the role of women in public life. - theguardian.com ( September 26, 2017)
    Beginning next year, Saudi Arabian women will be able to drive in cars alone. Previously, a male relative had to be present in the car while the woman drove, or else the woman could be arrested. The Saudi Arabian government has all but acknowledged that this is a public relations move to soften its image, and women still have a long way to go in Saudi Arabia before they are considered equal, but progress of any move towards equality is welcome.
  12. disillusioned
    freed from false ideas
    Chuck Rosenberg, the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, will resign his office at the end of the week, having become " disillusioned" with President Donald Trump. - freebeacon.com ( September 26, 2017)
    The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency announced his resignation this week. Chuck Rosenberg is a friend of dismissed FBI director James Comey and was also reportedly upset about President Trump telling a gathering of police officers, "Please don't be too nice," to arrested suspects. Rosenberg reportedly took those words as condoning some level of police brutality, and sent out memos critical of the president's remark. The White House claimed that the remark was a joke.
  13. jettison
    throw away, of something encumbering
    But the framework leaves many of the toughest decisions to Congress, including how to pay for a plan that could add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit, how progressive it should be and which prized deductions to jettison. - The New York Times ( September 27, 2017)
    President Trump unveiled his tax proposal this week. The new plan calls for three tax brackets instead of the current seven. Many deductions will also be eliminated, and the child tax credit will increase. The proposal also calls for a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% and doubling of the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. It is certain that this proposed tax plan will continue to make news in the weeks ahead.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.