This Week in Words: October 6 - 12, 2018

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

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. apolitical
    neutral with regards to government policy
    Taylor Swift, the pop music titan who has been notably apolitical in turbulent political times, broke her silence on Sunday and endorsed two Democratic candidates running for election in Tennessee. - The New York Times (Oct. 9, 2018)
    Taylor Swift has resisted expressing her political views. Until now, that is. Via Instagram, Swift endorsed two Democrats for the upcoming midterm election in her home state of Tennessee. By not staying apolitical Swift risks alienating a portion of her fan base. The day after her endorsements were made public, she was criticized by the President.
  2. contentious
    involving or likely to cause controversy
    "The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional," Kavanaugh said. "That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be." - USA Today (Oct. 8, 2018)
    After much controversy, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the new Supreme Court Justice this week. Kavanaugh is already making history by employing the first entirely female law clerk staff on the Court. This is a lifetime appointment and Kavanaugh is only 53 years old, so he is likely to be on the Court for another three decades or so.
  3. dissident
    a person who objects to some established policy
    While Turkey has not leveled the charges publicly, two Turkish officials speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the government considers the men to be Saudi operatives who flew last week to Istanbul in pursuit of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident. - The New York Times (Oct. 10, 2018)
    The case of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, took an interesting turn this week. Two Turkish officials now claim that 15 Saudis formed a death squad to kill Khashoggi, murdering him inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Saudi officials claim to know nothing of Khashoggi’s whereabouts. Khashoggi has written about abuses and corruption inside the Saudi government for several years.
  4. envoy
    someone on a mission to represent another's interests
    As ambassador, Ms. Haley was an outspoken and often forceful envoy — someone whom foreign diplomats looked to for guidance from an administration known for haphazard and inconsistent policy positions. - The New York Times ( Oct. 9, 2018)
    Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has announced her resignation, effective at the end of the year. Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina, is thought to have a bright future in Republican politics and is considered to be a possible future contender for the presidency.
  5. foster
    promote the growth of
    Professor Nordhaus shared the prize with Paul M. Romer, an economist at New York University whose work has demonstrated that government policy plays a critical role in fostering technological innovation. - The New York Times (Oct. 8, 2018)
    The Nobel Prize in Economics went to two professors who research the economic impact of climate change. Both recipients are in favor of a tax on carbon emissions to help the environment. Some see this choice was made in part to send a message about President Trump, who is categorically against such a tax and has pledged to revive the American coal industry.
  6. fruition
    the attainment or fulfillment of a plan or objective
    A long-awaited renewable energy project has finally come to fruition on the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history. - (Oct 8, 2018)
    The site of the most notorious nuclear accident in history has been given a second life as a station for solar panels. 3,800 solar panels now populate the landscape at Chernobyl in Russia. High radiation levels have made it impossible to live or work in Chernobyl for decades, but now scientists will harness enough energy from the solar panels there to power about 2,000 homes in other parts of the region.
  7. impede
    be a hindrance or obstacle to
    “We ask evacuees to be patient as we begin recovery,” the county tweeted Thursday. “It is not safe for you to return yet and will impede the progress of our first responders.” - The Wall Street Journal (Oct.11, 2018)
    Hurricane Michael made landfall this week, bringing heavy rain and destruction to the Florida panhandle. Michael is the worst storm to hit Florida in 167 years and the third-most powerful storm to make landfall in the U.S.
  8. iteration
    the act or process of doing or saying again
    The fourth iteration of “A Star Is Born,” directed by Bradley Cooper, arrived in theaters amid a wave of positive buzz and an awards campaign that’s gained traction since its debut at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5. - (Oct. 7, 2018)
    It was a huge week at the movies. The comic book adventure Venom took in $80 million dollars, and the remake A Star Is Born grossed over $40 million. These two movies combined to make this best October weekend ever for North American ticket sales.
  9. languish
    lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief
    Facebook rolled out Messenger in 2011. It bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, adding to its lineup of apps as Google+ languished. - The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 8, 2018)
    Google is pulling the plug on Google+, its application that was supposed to compete with Facebook. The social media platform began as an invitation-only project, but never really caught on with the larger public. Languish is a dramatic word that implies a lot of suffering due to neglect.
  10. mitigate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    “This report makes it clear: There is no way to mitigate climate change without getting rid of coal,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University and an author of the report. - The New York Times (Oct. 7, 2018)
    A United Nations panel released a report on climate change this week, and the predictions are dire. The report predicts major ecological disaster by the year 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced drastically. There is no precedent for reducing emissions this much this quickly, but the report urges swift action. The report was prepared for the Paris accord, which the United States pulled out of.
  11. surge
    a sudden or abrupt strong increase
    Ocampo and Finch were stunned by the surge of generosity – but they also knew that they didn’t need such wealth; so they asked Capron to shut down the donation page. - (Oct. 8, 2018)
    After one couple’s house was looted during the aftermath of a recent hurricane, their friends start a fund to raise money to replace the stolen items. The fund raised $10,000 more than its goal of $5000, so the couple is donating the surplus to a charity which provides assistance to military personnel affected by the hurricane.
  12. turbulence
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder
    But people familiar with their relationship said it had improved before the latest turbulence. - The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 8, 2018)
    President Trump has decided not to oust the man who is second-in-command at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein. Last week it looked like Rosenstein was either going to be fired or resign, but apparently he and President Trump had a meeting on Air Force One and Rosenstein’s job is safe for now. Rosenstein has oversight of the Special Counsel Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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