This Week in Words: February 19 - 23, 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 week was one of progress. Investigators looking into Russian interference in the '16 Presidential election indicted Russian entities accused of sowing discord in the American political system. Progress was made on scientific fronts as well. A pilot program designed to harness the energy of passing trains is underway, and a treatment to desensitize peanut allergy sufferers appears to offer real hope. And finally, progress was made in your cereal bowl. Lucky Charms announced that it will add a magical unicorn to its marshmallow lineup. We live in miraculous times.

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

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. discord
    strife resulting from a lack of agreement
    The indictment, secured by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into whether Russia meddled in the campaign, alleges that Russians wielded social-media messages, invented fake personas and staged rallies with the “strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” - The Wall Street Journal (Feb 16, 2018)
    In an unprecedented move, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. The indictments allege that the Russians used an extensive social media campaign and even fake rallies in an attempt to sway voters.
  2. galling
    causing irritation or annoyance
    Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy. - The New York Times (Feb 18, 2018)
    President Trump's first reaction to the indictments by Robert Mueller was to claim that they cleared his campaign of wrongdoing. When it became clear that these indictments were silent on the issue of the Trump campaign's involvement, the President took to Twitter and placed blame on Democrats and particularly President Obama for not doing more to stop Russian interference.
  3. pilot
    something that serves as a model
    Slingsby, who studied design and engineering at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art, has already installed a pilot set of Moya Power textiles along the London Crossway routes, according to WIRED. - (Feb 16, 2018)
    A woman in England has developed a clever way to harness energy. Thanks to her, the wind that is generated by speeding trains can now be collected by sheets and other textiles hung at the station and turned into electricity. While this method does not generate a tremendous amount of power, it gathers energy that has up until now gone to waste and turns it into something useful.
  4. launder
    transfer funds to hide the source of money gotten illegally
    According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort " laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts'' and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes. - The L.A. Times (Feb 18, 2018)
    A former deputy campaign manager for President Trump has reportedly agreed to testify against his colleague, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Richard Gates and Manafort are accused of several crimes, including money laundering, wherein you move money around to hide its original, illegal source, thereby laundering or cleaning the money.
  5. facsimile
    an exact copy or reproduction
    It is one of the exquisite facsimiles made from the original handwritten calf skin document crafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. - The Chicago Tribune (Feb 18, 2018)
    A rare copy of the Declaration of Independence has been located. This copy was made for James Madison in the 1820s. The copy has had a storied history, having been lost in attics and hidden behind wallpaper during the Civil War. The newly resurfaced copy is one of only 51 that are known to exist.
  6. veer
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
    Since then, “Black Panther” has become far more than just a popular tentpole title. Instead, it’s become a must-see event as it veers into record-setting territory. - (Feb 19, 2018)
    Black Panther has shattered all expectations at the box office. The film is projected to have taken in $235 million dollars over the 4-day President's Weekend holiday. The film also set a record for a Thursday night opening and almost broke a record set by Star Wars: The Last Jedi for the best Sunday in box office history.
  7. fraught
    marked by distress
    The endorsement began yet another chapter in a fraught political relationship defined by bruising intraparty battles. - The New York Times (Feb 19, 2018)
    Mitt Romney has announced his intention to seek the U.S. Senate in Utah to be vacated by Orrin Hatch when Hatch retires. Significantly, Romney has accepted the endorsement of President Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Romney was a main Republican voice behind the "Never Trump" movement. Trump and Romney have had a difficult relationship for a long time, with Trump often criticizing Romney's 2012 presidential campaign against Barack Obama.
  8. staple
    necessary or important, regarding food or commodities
    The sweet breakfast staple will now feature hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows, red balloons and now magical unicorns, according to the press release. - (Feb 19, 2018)
    A new marshmallow shape is coming to our breakfast table! Lucky Charms will now incorporate magical unicorn marshmallows into their product. To make room for the unicorns, the cereal is retiring the hourglass shape, but it is unlikely to be missed now that we can eat unicorns. With the rainbows and horseshoes, the unicorns seem like such a natural fit that it's hard to believe it took the company this long to come up with it.
  9. premise
    set forth beforehand, often as an explanation
    Last Friday, Nuechterlein, 16, and her classmate and friend, Whitney Bowen, 16, began organizing the White House protest and formed "Teens for Gun Reform" with the premise that it would be students speaking out for other students. - (Feb 19, 2018)
    In response to the school shooting in Florida last week, there have been a series of protests in that state and at the White House led by high school students. The protesters are demanding that action be taken on gun control. President Trump hosted a "listening sessions" to hear from gun control advocates. He has also called for a ban on "bump stocks", which can turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons. A bump stock was used in the Las Vegas shooting last year.
  10. desensitize
    cause to be less responsive to or affected by something
    The idea is simple: Expose people to small, escalating doses of ingestible peanut protein over time with the goal of desensitizing them enough to prevent severe reactions. - (Feb. 20, 2018)
    Progress was announced this week in the battle against severe peanut allergies. A pill containing a small amount of peanut flour is ingested by the allergy sufferer. The idea is that this small amount of exposure to the allergen desensitizes the person without triggering a reaction in them. So far, the clinical trial shows that this method has been effective in 67% of patients.
  11. bombardment
    an attack by dropping explosive devices
    The Syrian government, seizing on a chance to reclaim territory lost in its ever-escalating civil war, has loosed a devastating bombardment on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, killing at least 200 people, many of them children, aid workers said Tuesday. - The New York Times (Feb. 20, 2018)
    The civil war in Syria escalated this week, with the government executing a massive bombing raid on the city of Ghouta. At least 200 people have been killed in this latest bombing, which was the worst in years. The Syrian civil war involves many factions allied against President Assad of Syria. There have been campaigns for Assad's removal but they have been violently crushed. Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, had been a stronghold of the Assad resistance.
  12. avuncular
    resembling a uncle in kindness or indulgence
    It's been 50 years since Fred Rogers first appeared on TV screens, a gentle and avuncular man who warbled "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" as he changed into a cardigan and sneakers. - ( Feb. 20, 2018)
    Fred Rogers, the late public television host, will be honored with a postage stamp next month. Mr. Rogers, as he was known, was a unique talent with a gentleness and a respect for children not seen before or since. This year is the 50th anniversary of the start of his television show, and will also be marked by a television special.
  13. signature
    a distinguishing style
    The downhill has always been her signature event and Vonn was saying goodbye to both a race and a stage that had made her famous. - The New York Times (Feb. 21, 2018)
    Skiing legend Lindsey Vonn became the oldest woman to medal in an alpine skiing event in Olympic history when her time in the downhill event earned her the bronze medal. Vonn, who has been through many injuries and made it back to competition, is probably participating in her last Olympics this year. With her performances in the Olympics and in the World Cup, she will undoubtedly go down as one of the best skiers in the history of the sport.

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