This Week in Words: August 25 - 31, 2018

News flash! We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, debated and discussed this week. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. autonomous
    existing as an independent entity
    For ride-sharing concerns like Uber and Lyft Inc., autonomous vehicles could cut their biggest expense: paying human drivers. - The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 27, 2018)
    The car manufacturer Toyota will invest $500 Million dollars in Uber’s driverless car program. Uber’s pursuit of a car that can drive itself received criticism after a woman was killed by a car which, though it was manned by a human, was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision. Controversy aside, the Toyota investment is further evidence that self-driving cars are seen as the next frontier in transportation innovation.
  2. avian
    pertaining to or characteristic of birds
    The result seemed like an avian echo of Rosie Ruiz’s famous victory in the Boston Marathon nearly 40 years ago, which was invalidated after evidence emerged indicating that she had run only part of the race. - The New York Times (Aug. 29, 2018)
    Two men in China who tried to rig a homing pigeon race have been convicted of criminal fraud. Their scheme involved taking the pigeons on bullet trains to the finish line. When the birds’ time in the race shattered records, the other competitors got suspicious and the two men were investigated.
  3. befuddled
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    On Monday, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term “plant-based meats” and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. - USA Today (Aug. 28, 2018)
    The government of Missouri is trying to pass a law that would make it illegal to refer to alternative proteins like tofu and seitan as “meat.” “Meat” could only be used to refer to products containing animal flesh. The government is worried that, despite labeling, consumers will be confused about the contents of “meat substitutes.” Those who oppose the law say that meat as a term has a wide use, including referring to the main portions of nuts and fruit.
  4. bureaucrat
    a nonelective government official
    “There is reason to worry that this might be a step backward from Nafta for American families — especially on fundamental issues of presumed expiration of the deal, and empowering government bureaucrats rather than markets to determine the components in cars and other goods,” Mr. Sasse said. - The New York Times (Aug. 28, 2018)
    The Trump administration is close to reaching a trade agreement with Mexico. There is some controversy because this agreement is supposed to replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, because Canada was not included in the negotiations. Tensions have been high between the Trump administration and Canada since they clashed about tariffs. In a statement the administration was optimistic that there would be a separate agreement with Canada.
  5. consolation
    the act of giving relief in affliction
    As Serena recalled earlier this year, the Compton-raised sisters first competed against each other in a junior tournament when Serena was 8 and Venus was 10. Serena was so upset over losing that Venus gave her the winner’s trophy as consolation. - Los Angeles Times (Aug. 30, 2018)
    Sisters and tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams will face each other on Friday at the U.S. Open for the 30th time in their professional careers. Serena Williams holds the all-time record for women's open-era singles grand slam titles with 23 wins.
  6. integrity
    an undivided or unbroken completeness with nothing wanting
    Courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common
    to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion and humility.
    - “In Search of Courage” September 1, 2004
    Senator John McCain died on August 25, 2018 at the age of 81 after a long battle with brain cancer. McCain served in the US Navy as a bomber pilot, and survived several years in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. After retiring as a decorated war hero, he rose to national political prominence in the US Senate. He was defeated in two presidential bids, and was known as both a "non-nonsense" conservative and will be remembered as a figure of moral courage and bipartisan leadership.
  7. mitigate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions, the USDA said. - USA Today (Aug. 27, 2018)
    Last month, the Trump administration pledged to distribute twelve billion dollars to aid farmers, as agriculture has been hit particularly hard by the tariff war the president is engaged in with China and other countries. The first round of disbursements will begin next month. Soybean farmers will get a big portion of the money, $3.7 billion. Pork producers will get $290 million, and cotton farmers $277 million.
  8. prudent
    marked by sound judgment
    He figured it would be more prudent to develop a water harvester that could take advantage of abundant water particles in the atmosphere. - (Aug. 25, 2018)
    A team of researchers is developing a battery-powered backpack that will draw moisture from the air and convert it into drinkable water. The mechanism is projected to work even in arid environments, where it would be of most use. Such a device has the potential to drastically improve the way of life for millions of people who live where water is scarce.
  9. purveyor
    someone who supplies provisions, especially food
    President Trump attacked Google on Tuesday for what he claimed was an effort to intentionally suppress conservative views supportive of his administration, an accusation that increases pressure on technology companies grappling with their increasingly central role as purveyors of information. - The New York Times (Aug. 28, 2018)
    President Trump is accusing Google of suppressing access to conservative news sources in Google search results. Google has countered that their search algorithm does not suppress or promote individual news sources or political views.
  10. rampage
    violently angry and destructive behavior
    ATF and FBI agents searched a Baltimore home on the 1200 block of Harbor Island Walk on Sunday night in connection with the rampage. - USA Today (Aug. 27, 2018)
    A man opened fire on an EA Sports Madden Football video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, killing two people and injuring eleven. The gunman, David Katz, later took his own life. Katz, who purchased the handgun used to commit the crime legally, had a history of mental illness and was said to be disgruntled after losing.
  11. ratify
    approve and express assent, responsibility, or obligation
    The U.S.-Mexico trade deal announced by the two countries’ leaders this week now faces scrutiny from their respective legislators, who ultimately must ratify the agreement. - The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 30, 2018)
    Complicating the issue of a new trade agreement with Mexico and is the fact that any new pact has to be approved, or ratified by the Congress in both of the countries. Both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. are said to be hesitant. Democrats are wary of President Trump and both Republicans and Democrats would like Canada aboard as part of the deal. Canada and the U.S. are reportedly inching closer to a separate deal, but have not reached one as of yet.
  12. restive
    being in a tense state
    A key figure on the left of Emmanuel Macron’s governing coalition quit as environment minister Tuesday, exposing a rare fracture in the alliance and undercutting the French president’s efforts to calm leftist supporters restive over his pro-business agenda. - The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 28, 2018)
    A high-ranking member of the French government quit his post on a live radio broadcast, without discussing it with President Macron first. The French environment minister had accused Macron of betraying the environmental cause. Restive is a deceptive word, because it sounds like it should mean “calm” or “relaxed,” but in fact means the exact opposite — it means “tense” (like restless). Restive originally referred to stubborn horses that strongly resisted moving.
Created on August 27, 2018 (updated August 30, 2018)

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