The Week in Words: March 24 - 30, 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 was a week where various parties showed that they were angry and fed up. The students and supporters who participated in the March for Our Lives view Congress' inability to pass gun control legislation as a breach in the government's responsibility to protect its citizens. The Trump administration rebuked Russia for a nerve gas attack by expelling diplomats. Even the residents of Eastern Pennsylvania have indicated that they are fed with a famous rodent. A warrant was issued for the apprehension of a groundhog who made a promise he couldn't keep.

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

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    Students came from across the country, in groups large and small—traveling by car, train and plane—to rebuke their lawmakers for failing to adequately address gun violence. - The Wall Street Journal (Mar. 24, 2018)
    The March for Our Lives was held last weekend in Washington, D.C. with smaller events held around the country. The student-led event was organized to protest what the marchers see as a lack of effective gun control laws in the United States. It is estimated that over 800,000 people participated in the event, which was inspired and led by survivors of the Parkland school shooting that occurred in February.
  2. breach
    a failure to perform some promised act or obligation
    This was a breach of trust, and I'm sorry we didn't do more at the time," Mark Zuckerberg said in the signed ad, which was published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and six British papers. -USA Today (Mar.25, 2018)
    Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, took out ads in major newspapers this week to apologize for the data breach involving Cambridge Analytica. It was revealed that Cambridge Analytica used the voter information of 50 million Facebook users without permission. Critics contend that Zuckerberg's apology is not enough and that he must do more to ensure the safety of user data, with some calling on him to testify before Congress.
  3. hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
    Mr. Dowd, along with other lawyers on the team, recognized the risks of putting a client prone to hyperbole and inaccuracies in the same room with prosecutors. -The New York Times (Mar. 22, 2018)
    John Dowd, one of the lawyers who was representing the president in the Russia investigation, resigned from Trump's legal team. Reportedly, Dowd felt he was not being listened to by the President and that his advice would not be heeded. President Trump's legal team has some big decisions to make, including whether or not the President should testify as part of the Mueller investigation.
  4. expulsion
    the act of forcing out someone or something
    Germany and France made good on those threats by announcing expulsions and in a coordinated move, other states across the EU followed suit, along with Canada and Ukraine. - (Mar. 26, 2018)
    In response to a nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, the United States has expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed the Russian embassy in Seattle. The move is part of a collective response by several Western nations, including Canada and many countries in Europe, to punish Russia for the brazen attack. The move is drawing praise for President Trump, who has been seen by some as quick to excuse Russian aggression.
  5. apprehension
    the act of capturing, especially a criminal
    Last week, the office announced that it's "seeking the apprehension of Punxsutawney Phil for deception. On February 2, 2018, Phil promised that there would be 6 more weeks of winter." - USA Today (Mar. 26, 2018)
    Famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil peeks out of a hole every year on Feb 2. If he sees his shadow, supposedly that means six more weeks of winter. Since winter conditions in the northeast have lasted longer, a sheriff in Pennsylvania has issued a warrant for poor Phil's apprehension. Someone's got to take the blame for four Nor'easters in a four weeks, and if we don't blame the groundhog, I worry for the safety of our local weather forecasters.
  6. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
    Even in the most arid places on Earth, there is some moisture in the air, and a practical way to extract that moisture could be a key to survival in such bone-dry locations. - (Mar. 26, 2018)
    Researchers at M.I.T. have found a way to extract moisture from even the driest air by means of what is known as a metal-organic framework (MOF) powered by solar panels. Unlike many other extraction systems, which depend on foggy or otherwise wet conditions or are merely theoretical, the MOF system has been proven to work on a small scale even in desert conditions. The next step is to scale up the system so it can produce liters of water at one time.
  7. unequivocal
    admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding
    Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona’s approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state,” Ducey wrote in the letter. “Arizona will not tolerate any less than an unequivocal commitment to public safety.” - (Mar. 27, 2018)
    Last week, a self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. This week, Arizona banned the testing of self-driving cars on its roads and highways. Arizona and California had been the two states with the most lenient testing policy for these autonomous vehicles.
  8. hamper
    prevent the progress or free movement of
    A federal appeals court revived Oracle Corp.’s multibillion-dollar copyright infringement claims against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, in a ruling that could give fresh muscle to leading software makers but hamper upstarts developing new applications for computers and smartphones. -The Wall Street Journal (Mar.27, 2018)
    A court ruled this week that the use of Oracle's Java app in Google's Android phones is not "fair use" as had been previously decided. In copyright law, "fair use" usually applies when only a part of a copywritten work, like a song, is quoted in another work. In this case, the court said that using the entire code of the app is not "fair use." The ruling could mean that developers who want to use apps like Java would have to pay Oracle use fees, which could hamper innovation.
  9. volley
    discharge in, or as if in, a rapid burst of gunfire
    California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Tuesday for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the latest volley in a feud between Sacramento and Washington over federal immigration policies. - USA Today (Mar. 27, 2018)
    The Trump administration is adding some controversial material to the 2020 Census questionnaire. The new census will ask if respondents are citizens. Critics say this question will interfere with getting an accurate count of immigrant populations whose members are not citizens or who are in the process of obtaining citizenship. California has sued to prevent the new question from appearing, and twelve other states have filed a separate lawsuits
  10. desegregation
    incorporation of a formerly excluded group into a community
    Linda Brown, whose father objected when she was not allowed to attend an all-white school in her neighborhood and who thus came to symbolize one of the most transformative court proceedings in American history, the school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, died on Sunday in Topeka, Kan. - The New York Times (Mar. 26, 2018)
    Linda Brown died this week at the age of 75. Mrs. Brown was the African-American girl whose attendance at an all-white school in Topeka, Kansas in 1954 ultimately led to the desegregated schools in the United States in 1954. It took a Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education to accomplish this historic feat. The court ruled that in the case of segregated schools, "separate but equal" was "inherently unequal."
Created on March 25, 2018 (updated March 29, 2018)

Sign up, it's free!

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