This Week in Words: May 5 - 11, 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 full of decisive action. Researchers at the University of Buffalo took a major step towards solving the global clean water crisis by inventing a cheap, efficient water purifier. President Trump kept two campaign promises by instituting stringent border security and by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Is the president enforcing Draconian measures that he will one day come to rue, or will those measures become the vaunted hallmarks of a successful presidency? Only time will tell.

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

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definitions & notes only words
  1. smolder
    burn slowly and without a flame
    Flames creep across what were once lush-green yards, leaving behind a smoldering trail of destruction. - USA Today (May 6, 2018)
    The Kilauea volcano on the big island of Hawaii erupted this week, spewing lava everywhere. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes. Although lava causes a lot of fire, smolder means to burn without flame, usually in reference to the aftermath of a fire, when conditions are still very hot and filled with smoke.
  2. venerable
    profoundly honored
    Venerable trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who’s won the Preakness six times, is likely to show up with sixth-place Derby finisher Bravazo and another horse, Sporting Chance. - The Baltimore Sun (May 6, 2018)
    A horse named Justify won the 144th Kentucky Derby this week. Justify managed to run a clean race even though a downpour prior to the race had turned the track to mud. Justify also defied what is known in racing circles as the Curse of Apollo. The Curse of Apollo means that no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without starting their racing career as a two-year old. The curse had held since 1882. Justify is 3 years old and the Derby was only his fourth race ever.
  3. philanthropy
    the act of donating money or time to promote human welfare
    Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history. - The New York Times (May 6, 2018)
    No one, not even her friends or some of her family, knew that Sylvia Bloom was secretly rich; she lived modestly in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, a high school teacher. A legal secretary who worked at the same law firm for 67 years, Bloom had been quietly amassing a fortune through saving and sound investment. When she died, she left over $6 million dollars to a social services charity mdash; the largest gift from an individual in that organization's history.
  4. rue
    feel sorry for; be contrite about
    In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani, whose negotiating team reached the nuclear accord with six world powers in 2015, said the Trump administration would come to rue any decision to renounce the agreement. - The New York Times (May 6, 2018)
    Faced with the prospect of The United States pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, Irani president Hassan Rouhani said that the U.S. would rue, or regret, the decision to back out of the deal. Since the deal is one concerning the delayed acquisition of nuclear weapons, Rouhani's warning is a perplexing one. Is he threatening America with nuclear weapons he has pledged not to build, under the agreement he wants us to remain in?
  5. vaunt
    show off
    No U.S. company has ever crossed the vaunted trillion-dollar threshold, with Apple coming closest, hovering at about a $900 billion valuation in recent months. -USA Today (May 7, 2018)
    Apple is very close to becoming the first United States company to be valued at one trillion dollars. Apple's valuation currently stands at about $908 billion, which is about $120 billion more than its nearest rivals, like Amazon and Alphabet, the parent company of Google. What makes this all the more impressive is that forecasters thought Apple was having a comparatively rough year, with the latest iPhone sales being less than stellar.
  6. clandestine
    conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods
    In his podcast last week, Michael Morell, who served twice as CIA acting director, described Haspel's career of high-stakes clandestine operations, including one that led to the arrest of two suspects in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in east Africa in August 1998. -LA Times (May 7, 2018)
    President Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, faced some tough questions this week at her confirmation hearing. At issue is Haspel's history overseeing detention sites in foreign countries, and whether or not torture of suspects took place at those sites. These hearings will again bring up arguments about the differences, if there are any, between "enhanced interrogation techniques" and torture. Gina Haspel would be the first woman to ever lead the CIA.
  7. Draconian
    imposing a harsh code of laws
    The draconian new policy is expected to send a flood of deportation cases — and legal challenges — into federal courts. - (May 7, 2018)
    Attorney General Sessions instituted a new immigration policy this week, which calls for arresting undocumented immigrants the moment they cross the border. In the case of families, the parents are arrested and the children are taken into separate custody. Sometimes harsh laws are necessary, but critics are calling the move Draconian,a word that passes judgement,and paints those who support the law as cruel and unfeeling.
  8. stringent
    demanding strict attention to rules and procedures
    They have committed to staying in the deal, raising the prospect of a diplomatic and economic clash as the United States reimposes stringent sanctions on Iran. -The New York Times (May 8, 2018)
    This week President Trump pulled the United States out of its nuclear weapons agreement with Iran. Trump characterized the deal as a "weak" one that should never have been made. The problem is that many of America's allies still support the deal with Iran, leading to a clash among friendly nations. President Trump is being hailed in some corners as a strong leader, while others are pointing out that it is dangerous to pull out of a deal without having another one in its place.
  9. efficiency
    skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort
    Our system has a way of drawing heat in from the surrounding environment, allowing us to achieve near-perfect efficiency.” - (May 8, 2018)
    Researchers at the University of Buffalo have invented a new way to purify water. The cheap and effective way uses paper coated in carbon and sunlight to produce drinkable water. The researchers project that a device the size of a mini-fridge with their purifier in it could make as much as 10-20 liters of clean water a day. This technology would have potentially life-saving applications in impoverished areas and places that have been hit by natural disasters.
  10. hypocrisy
    pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not have
    "Melania Trump lecturing on cyber-bullying while the biggest cyber bully in the country sits in the audience has got to be the finest example of ironic hypocrisy in recent memory," tweeted Susan Hudson. - USA Today (May 8, 2018)
    First Lady Melania Trump "Be Best" program plans to address both cyber-bullying and the opioid crisis. The details of First Lady's initiative have already been the subject of some backlash, with people pointing out that her husband isn't always nice to people on Twitter. Fair or not, because she has not influenced her husband to stop cyber-bullying, but expects to persuade others to hold themselves to a higher standard, these critics have labeled her a hypocrite.
Created on May 6, 2018 (updated May 10, 2018)

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