This Week in Words: March 2 - 8, 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. berate
    censure severely or angrily
    Throughout much of 2018, Mr. Trump berated her privately for not doing enough to stop illegal immigration and accelerate construction of a wall along the border with Mexico. - The New York Times (Mar 6, 2019)
    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen testified before Congress about the situation at the U.S. southern border. Nielsen implored Congress to fund construction on a new border wall, and fielded questions about the administration’s family separation policy and conditions at immigrant detention facilities.
  2. buoy
    keep afloat
    A strong dollar, which weighed on American exports, and a continued shortfall in American savings also helped to buoy the metric.
    - The New York Times (Mar 6, 2019)
    New economic numbers show that the U.S. trade deficit is at its highest point in history, meaning that the country takes in many more foreign goods than it sells to other nations. This news is getting mixed reactions. Some say it points to a strengthening economy, because American consumers have increased their spending. Others point out that President Trump has failed to deliver on his campaign promise to narrow the trade gap.
  3. circumvent
    beat through cleverness and wit
    On my tour, several clerks suggested a 16-ounce limit on fountain drinks would easily be circumvented by anyone who bought more than one.
    - Los Angeles Times (Mar 6, 2019)
    Sacramento, California is considering a law that would limit the size of sodas that restaurants and convenience stores can sell. Critics point out that the law seems easy to circumvent, or get around, because it does not limit the number of sodas you can purchase. So while a 32-ounce soda is banned, you could still buy two 16-ounce sodas.
  4. foreboding
    an unfavorable omen
    On Sunday afternoon, sirens wailed and cellphones erupted with about 12 minutes of notice that a funnel cloud had dropped from a foreboding Alabama sky and was bound for Beauregard.
    - The New York Times (Mar 5, 2019)
    A massive tornado touched down in Alabama, killing more than twenty people. The tornado warning system did function as it was supposed to, but by the time the sirens sounded, it was too late for some to find shelter.
  5. initiative
    the first of a series of actions
    Blockbuster had entered the DVD via mail business, and eventually made a desperate move into streaming media. It was years too late when it began each of these initiatives.
    - USA Today (Mar 6, 2019)
    At the end of this month, there will be exactly one Blockbuster Video store left on Earth. The independently-owned store in Oregon still rents movies, but it also sells souvenirs to people who can’t believe there’s still a Blockbuster in existence. Once upon a time, before the era of streaming, you’d go to your neighborhood Blockbuster and rent a movie. You'd grab a bucket of free popcorn, browse the aisles for a VHS tape or DVD, go home and watch it, then try to remember to return it on time.
  6. mogul
    a very wealthy or powerful businessperson
    The media mogul became a Republican in 2001 and won the party's primary in the mayoral race that year
    - USA Today (Mar 5, 2019)
    A big political story this week was who is not running for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election. Both Hillary Clinton, who was defeated by President Trump in 2016, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced that they will not seek the presidency. We are still waiting to hear whether former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke will announce that they’re joining the already-crowded field of Democratic candidates.
  7. overture
    a tentative suggestion to elicit the reactions of others
    North Korea is restoring a missile launch site it previously claimed to be dismantling as an overture to the U.S., according to newly released commercial satellite photos and people briefed on South Korean intelligence.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Mar 6, 2019)
    In the wake of the breakdown of the summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un last week, it appears that North Korea is rebuilding a nuclear missile launch site. The previous dismantling of this site was considered an overture to show that North Korea was serious about disarming, but this latest move signals that they are ramping up their efforts to build a nuclear weapons program.
  8. prognosis
    a prediction of the course of a disease
    “Normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” Trebek said in the video.
    - Slate (Mar 6, 2019)
    Alex Trebek, host of the long-running TV game show Jeopardy!, revealed that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek released a video in which he vowed to fight the disease with the support and prayers of his family, friends, and fans. While the prognosis for those suffering from this type of cancer is generally not good, Trebek joked that he’d have to beat it because he has a contract to host the show for three more years.
  9. stockpile
    a storage pile accumulated for future use
    “It is currently stockpiled at the moment as it can’t be used. We’re going to take it through a much simpler process to turn it into this commercial silicate product.”
    - Good News Network (Mar 3, 2019)
    Researchers in Australia have found a new way to harness a substance from recycled glass to use as an ingredient in cleansers and toothpaste. Silicate is a gritty particle with abrasive properties that’s useful for cleaning stains. A stockpile is the amount of something you have on hand that has been saved for use in the future.
  10. thrive
    grow vigorously
    It is in accord with the larger Rights of Nature movement and philosophy which, over the past decade, has resulted in Ecuador’s 2008 constitutional acknowledgment of the rights of Mother Nature; New Zealand’s 2014 granting legal personhood to the Te Urewera forest; and India’s courts ruling in 2017 that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers have rights to exist, thrive, and evolve.
    - Good News Network (Mar 5, 2019)
    The citizens of Toledo, Ohio, have passed the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights”. This groundbreaking legislation endows the people of Toledo with the legal right to a clean lake. Now, citizens have the can sue on behalf of the lake if it becomes polluted. Extending legal rights to natural resources and landmarks is a relatively new weapon in the battle to protect the environment.

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