This Week in Words: October 28 - November 2, 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. autonomous
    existing as an independent entity
    But Waymo's critics are not convinced there is enough evidence that the fully autonomous cars can be trusted to be driving through neighborhoods without humans behind the wheel. - LA Times (Oct. 30, 2018)
    Waymo, the subsidiary of Google that's in the self-driving car business, is about to begin testing its vehicles on the roads in California. For these trials there will be no humans in the cars, but people will be remotely monitoring them and will have the power to stop them should something go wrong. Earlier this year Uber suspended testing of its autonomous vehicles in Arizona after one of them struck and killed a pedestrian.
  2. bulwark
    a protective structure of stone or concrete
    Inside the European Union, Ms. Merkel’s liberal version of conservatism helped serve as a bulwark against the nationalist push from other conservative leaders in countries like Hungary and Poland. - The New York Times (Oct. 29, 2018)
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week that she will not seek re-election, either for chancellor or as the head of her own party. Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, has lost badly in the last two elections. Merkel has had a hard time keeping her coalition government together recently, in the midst of an immigrant crisis. A bulwark is a structure that provides fortification and protection, and the word itself is related to boulevard .
  3. decry
    express strong disapproval of
    While the Department of Justice has vowed to prosecute Sayoc and decried political violence, President Trump on Monday continued to target journalists as "the true Enemy of the People." - (Oct. 29, 2018)
    Federal agents have arrested a suspect in connection with last week’s series of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump. Cesar Sayoc, a Florida resident, had a list of over 100 potential targets. To decry something is to speak against it loudly and forcefully — you can’t really decry in a whisper.
  4. de facto
    in reality
    Kanye West has made waves this year, becoming a de facto celebrity representative of the political right. - Fortune ( Oct. 31, 2018)
    Kanye West has been voicing his controversial political views for a while now, and he recently met with President Trump in the Oval Office. This week however, West announced that he is taking a step back from commenting on politics to focus on his creative side.
  5. exemplar
    something to be imitated
    These kids are exemplars of the quality work being done by middles schoolers with their teachers, mentors and families throughout the US. - (Oct. 30, 2018)
    Georgia Hutchinson, 13, has figured out a way to build a more efficient solar panel. The main innovation of Hutchinson’s panel is that the panels themselves move to follow the sun from dawn until dusk, instead of waiting for the sun to be directly overhead. This tracking enables the solar panels to produce a lot more electricity, much faster than in the past. Hutchinson won the $25,000 top prize in the National Broadcom MASTERS Competition for her invention.
  6. gauntlet
    a severe or trying experience
    The monthlong gauntlet known as the baseball playoffs doesn’t favor the best team. The three-round tournament format rewards the hottest team. - The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 29, 2018)
    The Boston Red Sox won the World Series this week. This is the fourth time that Boston has won the baseball championship since 2004, when the dreaded “Curse of the Bambino” was broken. This year’s Red Sox proved unstoppable, as they won more than 100 games during the regular season and plowed through their opponents in the post-season.
  7. indiscriminate
    failing to make or recognize distinctions
    In a rampage described as among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States, the assailant stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation, where worshipers had gathered in separate rooms to celebrate their faith, and shot indiscriminately into the crowd, shattering what had otherwise been a peaceful morning. - The New York Times ( Oct. 27, 2018)
    Eleven people were killed over the weekend when a man opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Robert Bowers has a history of writing anti-Semitic web content and reportedly owns 21 legal guns. Bowers appeared in court during the week to face the 44 federal and state charges against him.
  8. ironic
    displaying incongruity between what is expected and what is
    India's towering statue is ironic, as Patel is humbly dressed: Loose-fitted clothing and open-toed sandals. His arms are relaxed at his side and his face shows a bland expression. -USA Today ( Oct. 31, 2018)
    The world has a new tallest statue. Located in Gujarat, India and standing 597 feet, the statue depicts Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, who fought for Indian independence. The statue is made of bronze and is four times the size of the Statue of Liberty (without counting the base). Irony is difficult to define, but you could call the statue ironic because it is such a grand statue depicting a figure that looks so humble.
  9. predicate
    involve as a necessary condition of consequence
    That move would be predicated on national security arguments similar to those used to enact Trump’s travel ban last year on certain individuals from Muslim-dominated countries and would meet the same legal challenges by immigration advocacy and civil rights organizations. - USA Today (Oct. 29, 2018)
    Last week, the President pledged to send 800 troops to meet the refugee caravan at the Mexican boarder. This week he said he would increase the number of committed troops to over 5,000 and would consider increasing the number to 15,000 in an effort dubbed “Operation Faithful Patriot.” The troops will assist the boarder guards already in place and try to prevent refugees from entering the country.
  10. quibble
    argue over petty things
    You can quibble over whether this is a good policy, but you can't quibble over what the Constitution very specifically says on the manner," she said. - USA Today ( Oct. 31, 2018)
    President Trump claimed this week that he could sign an executive order to get rid of birthright citizenship. Many scholars responded that the automatic citizen status that is granted to anyone born in the United States is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and not subject to repeal by executive order. Despite this, at rallies this week the President repeated his claim. It remains to be seen if any concrete action will be taken on this matter by President Trump.

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