This Week in Words: January 12 - 18, 2019

News flash! We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, 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. assessment
    the act of judging a person or situation or event
    The initial US assessment of the deadly bombing in Syria that killed four Americans is that ISIS was behind the attack, two US officials said Thursday.
    - CNN (Jan 17, 2019)
    A suicide bomber walked into a restaurant in Syria and detonated a vest filled with explosives, killing 19 people. Among the dead were four American soldiers. Prior to this, only two American troops had been killed in Syria since 2014. The restaurant was known to be frequented by American service members, and observers say this is why it was targeted.
  2. caliphate
    the office of a Muslim civil and religious leader
    Wednesday’s attack in Syria, the officials said, could be viewed as a signal from the Islamic State that, contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertions that the caliphate has been destroyed, it remains a threat.
    - The New York Times (Jan 16, 2019)
    The terrorist organization known as The Islamic State, or ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the explosion in Syria. This is the first attack since the United States announced that it will withdraw troops from Syria in the near future. The Trump administration, including Vice President Pence, assured the media on Wednesday that the withdrawal will continue as planned, but that the U.S. will also do everything in its power to stop terrorist groups.
  3. caveat
    a warning against certain acts
    But Mr. Barr’s written statement also included a subtle caveat, limiting his assurances about the investigation to issues under his control: “I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision,” he wrote.
    - The New York Times (Jan 14, 2019)
    Confirmation hearings were held this week for President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr. Much of the questioning has centered around the Mueller investigation, which the Attorney General oversees. Barr was Attorney General during the administration of George H.W. Bush. His experience, combined with his support among the Republican majority in the Senate, suggest that he will be confirmed.
  4. discrepancy
    a difference between conflicting facts or claims or opinions
    Much of the discrepancy begins in high school, where they don’t take as many STEM classes as other students, in part because they perform poorly in them. One factor may be that they’re not expected to perform well, which creates performance anxiety. The researchers hoped to address some of the downstream psychological consequences of this anxiety, freeing students’ minds to unleash their potential.
    - Good News Network (Jan 15, 2019)
    A new study from Barnard College found that students who got to write about their test-taking anxiety for ten minutes before taking an exam performed better than students who did not participate in the writing exercise. The researchers theorize that writing about your anxiety can help channel that nervous energy into something productive, which lessens its effects. A discrepancy is a difference where two or more things don't add up.
  5. furlough
    a temporary leave of absence from military duty
    “Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.
    - The New York Times (Jan 16, 2019)
    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump asking him to postpone his State of the Union address, or to deliver it in writing. Federal workers who would be responsible for providing security for the event have been working without pay since the government shutdown, and Pelosi reasoned that this would pose a real risk for the President, for members of Congress, and for Capitol Hill itself.
  6. insurgent
    a person who takes part in an armed insurrection
    Islamist militants’ deadly 18-hour siege of an upscale complex here jolts a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and raises questions over how the Somalia-based insurgents have survived more than a decade of international military campaigns.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Jan 16, 2019)
    An office and hotel complex in Kenya was seized by an Islamic military group that is an offshoot of Al Qaeda. Gunmen were in a standoff with police, and at least twenty people were killed. The complex was said to be a target because Westerners frequent the upscale shops and businesses there. The Al Qaeda offshoot claimed that their actions were a response to the Trump administration's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  7. quell
    suppress or crush completely
    Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in Parliament on Wednesday, but the result did little to quell the turmoil gripping the British government over her plan for leaving the European Union, coming a day after she suffered a historic defeat on the blueprint.
    - The New York Times (Jan 16, 2019)
    This was another rough week for British Prime Minister Theresa May. Her version of the Brexit plan was firmly rejected by Parliament, which led to what is called a no-confidence vote, where Parliament votes on whether the Prime Minister should continue as leader. May barely survived the no-confidence vote, and now must try again to hammer out a Brexit deal. Deal or no deal, Great Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29.
  8. slew
    a large number or amount or extent
    The National Weather Service had issued a slew of weather warnings and alerts throughout the state by late Wednesday. High winds, rough surf, floods, mudslides, heavy snow, avalanches and blizzards were all in the forecast.
    - USA Today (Jan 16, 2019)
    The wild weather in California continues to create problems for its residents. Parts of the state that are just beginning to recover from the recent wildfires are now experiencing floods, mudslides and heavy snow. These winter weather phenomena have led to car accidents and even more property damage. Luckily, the forecast calls for the stormy weather to taper off soon.
  9. temper
    Both the Trump and Obama administrations had to coordinate and temper sanction programs so as to avoid unintentionally harming Europe.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Jan 16, 2019)
    President Trump decided to lift some sanctions on Russia, a move which would benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin. Democrats in Congress were trying to prevent doing away with these sanctions, but they were unable to secure the votes to keep the sanctions in place. When you temper something, you tone it down and make it less powerful. It's a very different meaning from another definition of temper, as in a "temper tantrum," which is an angry outburst.
  10. unequivocal
    admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding
    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s first stop on her newly announced presidential campaign was close to home — so close that it naturally invited questions about her unequivocal promise, just three months earlier, not to run for president as she sought re-election to represent this state
    - The New York Times (Jan 16, 2019)
    On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand officially announced that she'll run for president in 2020. Gillibrand, who is from New York, enters what is expected to be a very crowded field for the Democratic nomination. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has already announced her intention to run, while former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Biden are among many others who are considering a run for the nomination.

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