This Week in Words: December 30, 2017 - January 5, 2018

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 first week of the New Year was filled new beginnings. Orrin Hatch, longtime senator from Utah, announced his retirement and drew the ire of the President. The recent protests in Iran suggest that the Iranian people will rebuff authoritarian rule, and new overtures by Kim Jong-Un may thaw chilly relations between North and South Korea.

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

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. ire
    anger or hostility toward some real or supposed grievance
    Much of Iranians’ ire has been directed at President Hassan Rouhani and his inability to keep inflation in check or solve unemployment, which sits at about 12%. - The Wall Street Journal ( Jan 1, 2018)
    There were protests in the streets of Iran this week, and much of the anger is aimed at the nation's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Hundreds have been arrested and over a dozen killed. President Trump tweeted his support, saying of protesters: “They are hungry for food & for freedom,... Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!"
  2. overture
    a tentative suggestion to elicit the reactions of others
    Mixing the nuclear threat with an overture for easing tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, Mr. Kim proposed immediate dialogue with South Korea to discuss the North’s participation in the Olympics. - The New York Times (Dec 31, 2017)
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reached out to South Korea this week in what he promised was an effort to ease tensions between the two nations, then boasted about the country's nuclear capabilities. This is widely seen as an act to intimidate and provoke the U. S. North Korea tested missiles on several occasions last year and threatened the U.S. territory of Guam.
  3. durable
    capable of withstanding wear and tear and decay
    But it does open a window of opportunity for researchers to explore ways to make more durable, lightweight, glass-like items, like car windows. (Dec 28, 2017)
    Some of the greatest scientific discoveries were made by accident. This week another item was added to the list, as researchers revealed that they had stumbled upon a glass-like substance with self-healing properties. If you apply pressure to a cracked piece of this material, the cracks will seal up in about thirty seconds.
  4. dismal
    causing dejection
    It’s been a dismal year for the domestic box office, which ends 2017 with $11.12 billion in sales, down 2.3% from last year’s $11.38 billion and off slightly from 2015’s $11.14 billion, according to comScore. - ( Jan 1, 2018)
    Star Wars: The Last Jedi became the highest grossing film of 2017 this week, earning a total of $533 million. Overall, 2017 box office receipts were at their lowest in 25 years. It might be difficult to muster sympathy for the millionaires of the movie industry, but a Hollywood that doesn't earn money plays it extra safe when it comes to new projects, churning out sequels or carbon copies of successful movies, and nobody wants that so maybe we should all head to the cinema this weekend.
  5. throttle
    place limits on
    The criticism was fueled further last week when John Poole, founder of the computer-performance testing group Geekbench, wrote a blog post speculating that Apple was intentionally throttling performance on phones with older batteries. - The Wall Street Journal ( Dec 28, 2017)
    Apple apologized this week when it was discovered that the company was slowing down performance on older iPhones. To make amends Apple has drastically reduced the price of battery replacements for older iPhone models and has also promised the release of software that will monitor battery health.
  6. romp
    play boisterously
    Given the choice between chocolate on the pillow, and a puppy on the bed, we’d romp with rover any day. - ( Jan 1, 2018)
    A hotel in San Francisco is now offering an unusual amenity to its guests. For a fee, they will send up a real, cute, furry dog for you to cuddle with during your stay. Whether you miss your dog at home or just want some canine company, the Puppy Concierge is there to serve you.
  7. pedigree
    the ancestry or lineage of an individual
    Saban's pedigree will be compared with Smart's youth and relative inexperience leading a team on such a big stage, and it will be mentioned that Saban is 11-0 all-time against his proteges. - ( Jan 2, 2018)
    The matchup for the College Football Championship game is all set. On Monday, January 8, Georgia will take on Alabama. Georgia battled through a double overtime game with Oklahoma in The Rose Bowl to get to the championship, while Alabama cruised to a relatively easy win over Clemson in The Sugar Bowl to reach the final game.
  8. rebuff
    reject outright and bluntly
    Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced on Tuesday he will retire at the end of the year, rebuffing the pleas of President Trump to seek an eighth term and paving the way for Mitt Romney to run for the seat. - The New York Times ( Jan 2, 2018)
    Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has served in the Senate for 40 years, announced that he will retire at the end of the year. With the Senate almost evenly split down the middle at 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats, any change in Congress is interesting, but this one is especially intriguing because Mitt Romney, a Republican but no friend of President Trump, is expected to run for the seat. Romney was a prominent voice of the "Never Trump" movement during the election of 2016.
  9. efficacy
    capacity or power to produce a desired result
    “These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuroprotective effects in several studies.” - ( Jan 2, 2018)
    A drug originally developed to treat adult-onset diabetes has shown promise in early studies in helping to slow the effects of Alzheimer's disease. So far, the drug seems to protect the brain from degeneration and even significantly helps in reversing memory loss.
  10. epochal
    highly significant, especially bringing about a new era
    As the new year begins, the music industry could be set for an epochal moment. Hopes are running high for the first significant reform of music licensing rules in decades. - The Hollywood Reporter ( Jan 2, 2018)
    The popular music streaming site Spotify is being sued for $1.6 Billion dollars by those who hold the copyright to many of the songs Spotify plays. The group suing on behalf of the musicians claims that Spotify did not obtain the proper copyright permission to stream the songs, and the site is therefore in violation of copyright every time they play a song covered under the suit. People watching the case hope it will lead to a simplification of the copyright procedure for all parties involved.
  11. disparaging
    expressive of low opinion
    The rupture came after Mr. Bannon was quoted in a new book disparaging the president’s children, asserting that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” in meeting with Russians and calling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” - The New York Times ( Jan 3, 2018)
    In a leaked excerpt from a new book, former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon is quoted saying many disparaging things about President Trump’s children. In response, the President said that Bannon had “lost his mind” and downplayed Bannon’s contribution to his victory in the 2016 election.
  12. envelop
    enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering
    Yet the storm, notable for a steep drop in atmospheric pressure that prompted some forecasters to describe it as a “bomb cyclone,” was but one act in a prolonged run of misery that has already enveloped millions of people in a wintry torment of Arctic air and snow-blown streets. - The New York Times ( Jan 4, 2018)
    There was a gigantic storm all along the eastern seaboard this week. Schools were closed and roads were made impassible by the so-called “bomb cyclone.” Recovery from the storm was expected to be complicated by frigid, below-zero temperatures forecast for the rest of the week.

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