This Week in Words: December 16 - 22, 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.

This week showed us how little things can turn into big things. A power outage at the Atlanta airport is still having a cascading effect on holiday air travel. A nominee for federal judge whose embarrassing performance in front of Congress a few years ago was all but forgotten is now the subject of national ridicule. A nine-year old boy's selfless act caught the attention of a major tech corporation, which gave the boy what he wanted for Christmas.

Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. authoritarian
    characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule
    By choosing Cyril Ramaphosa as its leader and candidate for national elections in 2019, the ANC is taking a different turn from other African liberation movements that over the years became more authoritarian and anti-Western. - The Wall Street Journal ( Dec 18, 2017)
    Cyril Ramaphosa was elected the leader of the African National Congress this week, and will be that party's candidate in the South African national elections in 2019. Ramaphosa is one of South Africa's richest men. The ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, has seen slipping support in recent years as voters have started to doubt the ANC's promise of equality and opportunity. The ANC hopes that Ramaphosa will come to symbolize success for all South Africans.
  2. cascade
    a succession of stages, processes, or units
    It caused a cascade of delays that continued to affect air travel around the country on Monday during the start of the hectic holiday travel period and risks further delays into Tuesday. - The Wall Street Journal (Dec 19, 2017)
    A power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for nearly 11 hours last Sunday caused a ripple effect, which is why the resulting delays are is described as a cascade.
  3. derail
    run off or leave the tracks
    Investigators likely will examine whether the presence of another person could have distracted the engineer, according to rail experts. Federal investigators, who arrived late Monday night, are looking at a range of factors to determine what led to the derailment, which also injured more than 70. -The Wall Street Journal (Dec 19, 2017)
    An Amtrak train derailed this week outside of Seattle, Washington. Three people were killed in the accident and more than 70 were injured. Many elements can contribute to an accident such as this, and it will take some time for investigators to piece together exactly what happened.
  4. deterrence
    a negative motivational influence
    Deterrence today is significantly more complex to achieve than during the Cold War,” the document reads, saying a mix of inexpensive weapons and “the use of cybertools have allowed state and nonstate competitors to harm the United States across various domains.” - The New York Times (Dec 18, 2017)
    President Trump gave a speech outlining the administration's national security policy this week. Supporters hailed the "America First" theme of the address, while critics worry that there was not enough talk of cooperation with other nations.
  5. diligent
    characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks
    The ex-Wall Street tycoon, Wu, and the rest of the Bolster family were diligent about attending every single one of Gloria’s treatments – and they were surprised to discover that other cancer patients did not have that same support. (Dec 18, 2017)
    After their own experience supporting a relative with cancer, a man and his wife have started chemocars, a non-profit ride service that gets patients and their families to and from their treatment sessions. Having friends and family around is a crucial factor in recovery, and this service makes it easier to keep a patient's support network intact.
  6. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution effectively rebuking U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledging to move the U.S. embassy there. - The Wall Street Journal (Dec 21, 2017)
    The U.N. was highly critical of the U.S. this week after the U.S. announced that it was officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The U.N. passed a resolution by a vote of 128 countries in favor and 9 against condemning this move. After the U.N. General Assembly rebuked the United States on this issue, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley responded, "We will remember this, when so many countries come calling on us... to use our influence to their benefit."
  7. ridicule
    the act of deriding or treating with contempt
    A clip of the exchange between the nominee, Matthew Petersen, and Senator John N. Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, became a viral sensation and drew ridicule across the internet. - The New York Times (Dec 18, 2017)
    A nominee for a federal judgeship has withdrawn his name from consideration after portions of his confirmation hearing went viral, subjecting him to much ridicule. Two other Trump Administration nominees have also withdrawn their names in recent days. Critics point out that this is a sign that the administration is nominating unqualified people, while defenders of the President say that by and large the nominees are qualified, but it is the few unqualified ones who make news.
  8. salvo
    an outburst resembling the discharge of firearms
    The latest salvos came over the weekend, when a top Republican senator said Mr. Mueller should examine his team’s political leanings, and a lawyer for Mr. Trump sent a letter to lawmakers saying that the special counsel had improperly gotten emails from the presidential transition team. - The New York Times (Dec 17, 2017)
    Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump Campaign and Russia continued this week, but there are many rumors of increased tension and lack of cooperation between Mueller and the Administration. President Trump insisted again this week that he will not fire Mueller, but some of the President's allies are suspicious of the political views of some on Mueller's team and have accused the Special Prosecutor of obtaining some information illegally.
  9. selfless
    showing concern for the welfare of others
    A 9-year-old boy from Beachwood, Ohio, has learned that those who give selflessly often receive unexpectedly. - (Dec 19, 2017)
    A young boy did something selfless this holiday season and has been rewarded for it. Mikah remembered how, at a time when his family was struggling, all he wanted was a blanket of his own. His family is doing better now, and Mikah asked for an X-Box for Christmas. When he realized how many blankets he could buy for the cost of an X-Box cost, he asked for the money instead and bought blankets for the homeless. When Microsoft heard about his generosity it sent Mikah an X-Box of his own.
  10. stimulus
    any information or event that acts to arouse action
    Officials signaled last week they don’t see a need to raise rates more aggressively to prevent new stimulus from overheating the economy, in part because of muted inflation pressures. - The Wall Street Journal ( Dec 19, 2017)
    Despite a few last minute glitches, the Republican Tax Bill looks like it will become law by Christmas. The tax cuts contained in the bill are intended to stimulate the economy by leaving more money in the hands of consumers and businesses so they can spend it on goods and services. This strategy doesn't always work, though, as sometimes individuals save instead of spend and corporations given tax breaks don't necessarily look to employ new people and grow their businesses right away.

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