This Week in Words: March 23–29, 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.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. array
    an impressive display
    She added that the Special Olympics, a sports organization for children and adults with disabilities that raises money from a broad array of sources, is better off working with state and local partners.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Mar 27, 2019)
    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared before Congress this week to defend the proposed federal budget, which would eliminate funding for the Special Olympics. DeVos explained that her department had to make some “hard decisions” regarding where to cut spending, and suggested that the organization might be able to offset the 18-million-dollar loss with charitable donations.
  2. authenticity
    undisputed credibility
    The next day, a Picasso specialist from the Pace Gallery in New York flew to the Netherlands to check the painting, and verified its authenticity, Mr. Brand said.
    - The New York Times (Mar 26, 2019)
    A valuable Picasso painting has been found in the Netherlands, 20 years after it was stolen off a yacht in southern France. Once "Portrait of Dora Maar" was discovered, art experts carefully examined it to verify its authenticity and be sure the recovered artwork was not a fake.
  3. banter
    light teasing repartee
    Traditionally, their banter opens with “It’s a beautiful day for a crossword puzzle tournament, let’s play two!,” a play on Chicago Cubs announcer Ernie Banks’s famous line.
    - The New York Times (Mar 24, 2019)
    The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament was held this past weekend in Stamford, Connecticut. Over 700 solvers competed on 7 puzzles. In the end, no one could overtake defending champ Dan Feyer, a musician from San Francisco who set a new record by winning for the eighth time. Competitors wear headphones to block out the banter of the play-by-play commentary that’s broadcast to word nerds across the globe who watch the final match.
  4. consensus
    agreement in the judgment reached by a group as a whole
    . A new consensus could emerge across party lines. Or, in the plausible event that the lawmakers prove unable to agree on anything, the voting may add to the chaos.
    - The New York Times (Mar 27, 2019)
    British Prime Minister Theresa May has offered to step down if her Brexit plan is approved by Parliament. May said that she recognizes that new leadership is called for to carry the country forward. Even with May’s promise, all Brexit plans have so far been voted down in Parliament. It’s unclear whether a consensus can be reached among the different political parties.
  5. contamination
    the act of polluting, as by unwanted substances or factors
    Record flooding in the Midwest is now threatening the safety of more than a million private water wells. The National Ground Water Association estimates that people living in more than 300 counties across 10 states have their groundwater threatened from bacterial and industrial contamination carried by flood waters.
    - CNN (Mar 27, 2019)
    The recent catastrophic flooding in the Midwest has led to concerns about water safety. Organisms that carry diseases and that live in standing water could potentially seep into the groundwater and the wells in the region, which could result in illness.
  6. degradation
    changing to a lower, less respected state
    To Mr. Trump’s critics, however, the development represents a dangerous degradation of the rule of law, handing a president almost complete leeway to thwart any effort by federal law enforcement authorities to scrutinize his actions almost as if he were a king.
    - The New York Times (Mar 26, 2019)
    Reactions to the Mueller report, which was filed last week but has not been released to the public, have been pouring in from across the political spectrum. Trump’s supporters believe that the summary of the Mueller report by Attorney General William Barr vindicates the President. Trump’s opponents say that attempts to block the investigation and the release of the report are a degradation, or lowering, of legal standards.
  7. reconnaissance
    the act of scouting
    The commander of US forces in South Korea warned lawmakers Wednesday that the US might not have sufficient intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities on the Korean peninsula to see an attack coming if denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang fall apart, causing hostilities to flare up again.
    - CNN (Mar 27, 2019)
    Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, said this week that he does not see evidence of denuclearization on the part of North Korea. Abrams also expressed doubt that the U.S. would be ready for an attack if North Korea is not disarming but, in fact, planning an offensive. Reconnaissance is a mission to collect information about an enemy or potential enemy by visual observation or other detection methods.
  8. relish
    vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment
    Other Democrats appeared to relish the chance to shift to health care. Asked if the Trump administration’s court filing allowed Democrats to turn the page on Mueller, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would have been talking about health care no matter what.
    - Time (Mar 27, 2019)
    Eager to put the Mueller investigation behind him and move on to other business, the President returned to his campaign promise and announced that he would again try to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The President was unsuccessful in his previous attempts to get rid of Obamacare, which has popular provisions such as protecting the ability of people with previous health issues to get insurance.
  9. sanctuary
    a consecrated place where sacred objects are kept
    The Central Synagogue went on to say that they also felt inspired to share their place of worship with their Islamic neighbors after experiencing their own sanctuary fire 20 years ago. - Good News Network (Mar 25, 2019)
    A New York City mosque was partially destroyed in a fire this week, and the congregation of about 500 was left with nowhere to hold their religious services. A nearby Jewish temple opened its doors to the displaced Muslim congregants and gave them a place to pray. Both the rabbi from the synagogue and the imam from the mosque said that this turn of events was one of the holiest experiences of their lives.
  10. windfall
    a sudden happening that brings good fortune
    Africa is set to receive a massive financial windfall courtesy of the world’s largest developmental banking organization.
    - Good News Network (Mar 25, 2019)
    The World Bank has pledged 22.5 billion dollars to help African nations find solutions to the effects of climate change. Experts fear that countries on the continent, which are among the poorest in the world, will be among the most severely affected by the continuing effects of global warming. The World Bank has already given 200 billion dollars worldwide to combat climate change.

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