This Week in Words: February 16 - 22, 2019

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. abstain
    refrain from doing, consuming, or partaking in something
    They also asked the church-goers to abstain from spending money on any non-essential items so they could donate the money instead to an important cause.
    - Good News Network (Feb 16, 2019)
    Our feel-good item of the week comes from Alexandria, Virginia, where churchgoers raised over
    $100,000 for student debt relief. During the month of January, members of the congregation abstained from unnecessary spending, instead donating that money to pay off the college loans of 34 Howard University students.
  2. contraption
    a device or control that is very useful for a particular job
    The City of Cockburn recently became the first municipality in Western Australia to deploy a Seabin, and they say that the contraption has already proven to be very successful.
    - Good News Network (Feb 19, 2019)
    They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and two Australian surfers are proving it. The guys saw an urgent need to clean up ocean trash that was not only spoiling their sport but posing an environmental hazard. Solution: the Seabin, a floating garbage collector that sucks up trash from the water. The device will soon be floating offshore in 25 countries. Bonus: the sound of the motor keeps marine life safely away from the contraption.
  3. exult
    feel extreme happiness or elation
    Mr. Sanders will start with several advantages, including the foundation of a 50-state organization; a massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined; and a cache of fervent, unwavering supporters who spent the day exulting in his decision to run.
    - The New York Times (Feb 19, 2019)
    Bernie Sanders, independent senator from Vermont, has decided to run for president again in 2020. Sanders raised $6 million in the hours after he announced is candidacy, mostly in the form of small donations from younger voters, who make up a large portion of his support. In 2016, Sanders lost his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee to Hillary Clinton.
  4. pension
    regular payment to allow a person to subsist without working
    According to national polls, discontent has been driven by the slow pace of economic growth, falling wages and an unpopular pension reform that has raised Russians’ retirement age.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Feb 20, 2019)
    Vladimir Putin gave his annual address to the Russian people this week. Putin addressed a range of issues, including the difficult economic situation and the country’s nuclear weapons program. Putin indicated that Russia will not be an aggressor toward the U.S., which just pulled out of a long-standing nuclear treaty, but stated that Russia would match America in the manufacture and placement of missiles.
  5. precarious
    not secure; beset with difficulties
    Three lawmakers quit British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party on Wednesday over Brexit, a move that further adds to the precariousness of her grip on power and underlines how the decision to leave the European Union is reshaping British politics.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Feb 20, 2019)
    Three British lawmakers have quit the Conservative Party in England and joined the recently-formed Independent Group. This is bad news for Prime Minister Theresa May, who is in the precarious position of trying to hold together her ever-thinning group of supporters in Parliament. The lawmakers quit May’s party primarily because they did not like her Brexit deal. This sets up the possibility for another no-confidence vote, which would likely be the end of May’s political career.
  6. quandary
    state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options
    For the Chinese, the conflicting statements present a quandary, said Cornell University China scholar Eswar Prasad.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Feb 19, 2019)
    The United States and China have resumed low-level talks to put an end to their trade war. Unless a deal is reached, the U.S. is set to further increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1st. Although deadlines are important leverage in negotiations, the Trump administration is now offering different timetables. A chief negotiator for the U.S. says that March 1 is a firm deadline, but President Trump recently said that it is “not a magical date.”
  7. recuse
    disqualify oneself as a judge in a particular case
    Rosenstein gained national attention after Trump's former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Russia investigation, leaving his then second-in-command to oversee U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team.
    - CNBC (Feb 19, 2019)
    Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced months ago that he will leave the Trump administration some time in March. The President has chosen Jeffrey Rosen of the U.S. Department of Transportation to succeed the outgoing Deputy A.G. Rosen is said to have a good relationship with William Barr, the recently confirmed Attorney General, who replaced Jeff Sessions after he was ousted by the President. Trump was unhappy that Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe.
  8. remnant
    a small part remaining after the main part no longer exists
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Hoda Muthana, who is now in a refugee camp in Syria along with others who fled the remnants of the Islamic State, has no legal claim to citizenship and will not be permitted to enter the country.
    - Time (Feb 20, 2019)
    A woman who left the United States years ago to join her husband, an ISIS soldier in Syria, is petitioning to be let back into the U.S. The Trump administration says that Hoda Muthana is not a United States citizens and will not be allowed to return. Muthana’s lawyer claims that she did once have a U.S. passport, and should be treated like any American who committed a crime. European nations are also grappling with how to handle the cases of people who left to join ISIS but now want to return.
  9. stymie
    hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
    But on Tuesday morning, the president explicitly tied the rail line to efforts to stymie construction of the Mexican border wall.
    - The New York Times (Feb 19, 2019)
    In the wake of President Trump declaring a national emergency to fund the southern border wall, 16 states have sued the U.S. government in an attempt to stymie those plans. California is among those states, and now the Trump administration may stymie California’s plan to build a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco by taking back the federal money that was supposed to fund the project.
  10. terse
    brief and to the point
    It is not a lawsuit about equality, or dignity, but about the nuts and bolts that undergird the constitutional lawmaking process. It is wonky, and formal, terse, and unromantic.
    - Slate (Feb 19, 2019)
    The lawsuit brought by several states that challenges President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency will most likely make its way to the Supreme Court. Legal analysts who have reviewed the states’ arguments say that they are making their case in a way that is terse, or to the point.

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