This Week in Words: March 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. compost
    convert to a mixture of decaying vegetation and manure
    fter pledging last year to phase out plastic straws from all of its locations by 2020, Starbucks announced plans this week to test recyclable and compostable cups.
    - Forbes
    Starbucks, which uses 7 billion cups each year, will introduce new compostable cups with straw-less lids this summer. The new packaging will be rolled out in six cities to start.
  2. dubious
    fraught with uncertainty or doubt
    Government Korea experts remain skeptical of Trump’s top-down approach, and dubious that personal chemistry can overcome the North’s long-term, strategic thinking.
    - Time (Mar 19, 2019)
    While President Trump reportedly feels that his relationship with Kim Jong-Un will ensure that the North Korean leader will back away from developing nuclear weapons, many experts are doubtful, or dubious, that this approach will work. Recent satellite photos showed the rebuilding of nuclear facilities in North Korea.
  3. frigid
    extremely cold
    Taylor and Ally then hunkered down in his car and waited for rescuers to arrive. The two of them spent the next five days in his car, during which he would periodically eat leftover Taco Bell fire sauce for energy and turn on his car for occasional heating during the frigid nighttime temperatures.
    - Good News Network (Mar 19, 2019)
    A man who was trapped in his car for five days during a snowstorm credits his survival to his only food source — packets of Taco Bell Hot Sauce. To make sure that the man is never again forced to rely on hot sauce alone, Taco Bell is reportedly giving him free food for a year.
  4. hinder
    be an obstacle to
    The European Union has hit Google with another big antitrust fine, the third in a series of billion-dollar penalties the US tech giant has incurred for hindering competition.
    - CNN (Mar 20, 2019)
    Google was fined $1.7 billion by the E.U. for the exclusivity contracts that the tech giant makes advertisers sign for use of their AdSense service. The E.U. found that Google illegally blocked competition with these contracts. To hinder is to delay or prevent something from occurring.
  5. impasse
    a situation in which no progress can be made
    The U.K. asked the European Union to delay its departure from the bloc until June 30, an extension that if approved would give Prime Minister Theresa May just months to break an impasse in Parliament over her withdrawal deal.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Mar 20, 2019)
    Britain’s been given an extension to finalize its plan to leave the E.U., as long as Prime Minister Theresa May can persuade Parliament to accept her Brexit plan. If she can, the deadline will be May 22. If she can’t — and lawmakers have already voted against her proposal twice — the deadline would be moved up to April 12.
  6. levy
    impose and collect
    The U.S. has levied tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, covering about half the value of Chinese exports to the U.S. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. goods, about 90% of U.S. exports to China.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Mar 20, 2019)
    The U.S.-China trade war shows no signs of ending. President Trump said that the tariffs that have been levied against China will stay in place for as long as it takes for China to agree to the U.S.'s demands.
  7. maroon
    leave stranded or isolated with little hope of rescue
    In central Mozambique, the area hit hardest by Cyclone Idai, overflowing rivers created “an inland ocean” where countless people were still marooned, a United Nations official said.
    - The New York Times (Mar 19, 2019)
    Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, causing tremendous damage followed by catastrophic flooding. The death toll is likely to reach into the hundreds, and many more are stranded, or marooned, in areas of high water.
  8. meticulous
    marked by extreme care in treatment of details
    The process of identifying bodies has been, by all accounts, meticulous, in line with international standards and New Zealand’s strict procedures for murder victims.
    - The New York Times (Mar 20, 2019)
    The sad duty of burying the victims of the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand began this week. Fifty people were killed when a gunman opened fire in two crowded houses of worship last Friday. While the Muslim faith calls for burial soon after death, officials are trying to balance this sacred religious practice with the time it takes to conduct a methodical investigation.
  9. perseverance
    persistent determination
    In a note to employees shared with CNBC, Iger thanked members of both organizations on their "patience and perseverance" leading up to the acquisition.
    - CNBC (Mar 20, 2019)
    Disney has acquired Fox Studios in a deal valued at $71 billion. With the exception of Fox News Channel, Disney now controls most of Fox’s properties, including popular shows like The Simpsons and The X-men franchise. The chairman of Disney, Robert Iger, mentions perseverance in a public letter about the deal because it took a long time to negotiate and was delayed several times.
  10. pummel
    strike, usually with the fist
    The record floods that have pummeled the Midwest are inflicting a devastating toll on farmers and ranchers at a moment when they can least afford it, raising fears that this natural disaster will become a breaking point for farms weighed down by falling incomes, rising bankruptcies and the fallout from President Trump’s trade policies.
    - The New York Times (Mar 18, 2019)
    Farming communities in the midwest are already suffering tremendous economic losses this year, and the recent flooding in the region may destroy many farms for good. Areas of Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota have been leveled by historically high flood waters, and many residents of the region don’t see a way that they can recover from this disaster.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.