This Week in Words: March 30–April 5, 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. acrimonious
    marked by strong resentment or cynicism
    The tension and “animosity” between the justices was “palpable and unpleasant,” and it bled over into an acidic, acrimonious set of opinions. - Slate (Apr 2, 2019)
    The Supreme Court is an institution that strives to rise above the petty squabbles that can affect the other branches of government. Recently, however, court-watchers noticed that the Justices are not being polite to each other during oral arguments. This ill will is said to stem from a series of recent cases where tensions ran high among the nine judges.
  2. articulate
    characterized by clear expressive language
    It made me smile,” said Smith. “It was a really articulate, well-reasoned, polite, yet passionate and emotional note about saving a species that no one is speaking for. It hit me in a really emotional way.” - Good News Network (Mar 31, 2019)
    A seven-year-old boy convinced L.L. Bean to stop using plastic straws at its corporate facilities. The boy, who is trying to save sea turtles, appealed to the company’s sense of environmental responsibility in a very persuasive letter. Articulate means well-spoken and direct.
  3. asset
    a useful or valuable quality
    Ms. Lightfoot, who has never held elective office, easily won the race, The Associated Press reported, beating out a better-known, longtime politician and turning her outsider status into an asset in a city with a history of corruption and insider dealings." - The New York Times (Apr 2, 2019)
    Lori Lightfoot, a 56-year-old woman who has never held office before, was elected mayor of Chicago this week. Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, is the first African-American woman to hold the post. Lightfoot’s opponent in the race, Toni Preckwinkle, had more experience in government than she did, but Lightfoot still managed to win all 50 of Chicago’s wards, or districts, on the way to her stunning victory.
  4. beguiling
    highly attractive and able to arouse hope or desire
    There will be beguiling tunes on the way, but Spotify’s path to proper profits looks as long as ever. - The Wall Street Journal (Apr 3, 2019)
    It seems like Spotify everywhere, but with competition from huge companies like Apple and Amazon, the streaming service isn’t earning profits that are in line with its popularity This is due in large part to the fees the company has to pay to the record labels to license all the music that is the core of Spotify’s business.
  5. disingenuous
    not straightforward or candid
    "In the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, the chairman demands our nation’s top law enforcement official break the law instead of supporting him in enforcing it," Collins said. "This is reckless. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous." - USA Today (Apr 3, 2019)
    The House Judiciary Committee has prepared a subpoena demands access to the entire Mueller report and all its supporting documents. An edited version of the report is scheduled to be released by the Justice Department in the next week or so, but the subpoena was prepared so that members of Congress would be able to read the complete findings. The move led to more fighting in the House, with a Republican member calling the Democratic chairman disingenuous.
  6. expedient
    serving to promote your interest
    The president’s pronouncements and social media blasts are often surprise attacks. They can vanish as quickly as they emerge if political expedience warrants a different tack. - Time (Apr 3, 2019)
    Over the past few weeks, President Trump announced several bold actions, including another attempt to repeal Obamacare and a threat to immediately close parts of the Mexican border. This week, the President backed away from both of those initiatives, saying that he will give Mexico another year before closing the border, and delaying a new healthcare policy until after the 2020 election.
  7. immemorial
    long past
    As we have done through centuries of interaction with external actors, it is critical that our people band together and support one another. We are a proud nation that has existed on this land since time immemorial. - Good News Network (Apr 1, 2019)
    In a historic move, The Navajo nation is moving away from coal as its main source of revenue. For the past hundred years or so, the Navajo nation has been dependent on the fossil fuel, but now the tribe is going to diversify and expand into alternative energy sources and tourism in an effort to solidify its financial future.
  8. insular
    narrowly restricted in outlook or scope
    Because the nation’s air travel system is highly specialized and somewhat insular, a problem in one part of the ecosystem can have an outsized ripple effect, turning into delays, cancellations and riled passengers. - The Washington Post (Apr 2, 2019)
    The recent plane crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets and two technical glitches paralyzed flights for a short while this week have brought the entire airline industry under scrutiny. The majority of airlines use the same software programs, so when there is a problem with the system, the effects are enormous. This lack of diversification is an example of a problem experienced by insular industries — ones that are closed unto themselves.
  9. shroud
    cover as if with a burial garment
    Even that will be challenging, however, as the black hole at the center of our galaxy is " shrouded in a thick cloud of dust and gas," according to Science Alert. Even more confounding is that spacetime around a black hole is "weird." - USA Today (Apr 2, 2019)
    Next week, for the first time ever, scientists will reveal a picture of a black hole. The black hole is located at the center of our galaxy and is known as “Sagittarius A”. Of course, it is difficult to see even supermassive black holes like Sagittarius A because, well they’re black! No light can escape them because their gravitational pull is so powerful. Because of this, the picture will probably be of the area known as the “Event Horizon”, the place where the black hole was first created.
  10. surname
    the name used to identify the members of a family
    She was allowed to enter by Secret Service agents stationed outside the resort after the Mar-a-Lago security manager on duty verified that her last name matched the surname of a member of the club, according to a complaint filed in federal district court in South Florida. - The New York Times (Apr 2, 2019)
    A Chinese woman who gained access to Mar-A-Lago, President Trump’s private club in Florida, was arrested after it was discovered that she was carrying a thumb drive full of malware capable of compromising computers. The woman was allowed into the club’s grounds because she had the surname of a member. But her story was full of inconsistencies, including the fact that she didn’t have a bathing suit although said she had come for a swim.

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