This Week in Words: May 25–31, 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. empathetic
    showing ready comprehension of others' states
    One study that was conducted in 2018 says that dogs are surprisingly empathetic and they will do anything to help when you’re distressed, while this other piece of research says that dogs are so delighted by the sight of human smiles, they will ignore danger just to bask in their owner’s joy.
    - Good News Network (May 28, 2019)
    Are you a dog person? It may be in your DNA. New research by a team of Swedish and British scientists suggests that a proclivity for the company of canines may be highly influenced by one’s genetic makeup.
  2. feasible
    capable of being done with means at hand
    Professor Giacca’s study convincingly demonstrates for the first time that this might actually be feasible and not just a pipe-dream,” Shad added. “It’s a very exciting advance in the field.
    - Good News Network (May 28, 2019)
    Scientists in London have recently had success splicing cells from animals that can regenerate heart cells, like fish and salamanders, into pigs, so that the mammal can regenerating its own heart tissue. Human trials are a long way off, but if the technology can be refined this could be a treatment for heart disease.
  3. jettison
    throw away, of something encumbering
    The Trump administration is reviewing whether it will extend the accord, seek to modify it or jettison it altogether in favor of a new negotiating approach, a prospect that concerns arms-control advocates.
    - The Wall Street Journal (May 29, 2019)
    New information has come to light which suggests that Russia is testing low-yield nuclear weapons, in violation of the test ban treaty it has abided by for years. Now the Trump administration is wondering whether to jettison, or get rid of, the test ban treaty and start negotiations on a new agreement. Russia denies that such testing is going on.
  4. origami
    the Japanese art of folding paper
    Two teenage girls are responsible for providing clean water to thousands of people simply by pursuing their love of origami.
    - Good News Network (May 28, 2018)
    Two friends are using their passion for origami to help fund international clean water projects. By selling their folded paper ornaments, two teen girls have made $1.5 million so far, which they have distributed to 170 clean water programs. Their efforts have positively impacted the lives of thousands of people in 17 countries.
  5. philanthropy
    the act of donating money or time to promote human welfare
    She became the latest person to join The Giving Pledge, an organization created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that invites billionaires to commit to donate more than half of their fortune to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.
    - NBC News (May 28, 2019)
    Mackenzie Bezos, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced this week that she will give away about half of her $37 billion fortune to charitable causes. Bezos’ philanthropy will likely focus on causes like early childhood education and anti-bullying initiatives. Mackenzie Bezos is the 4th richest woman in the world and the 22nd richest person on Earth.
  6. provenance
    where something originated or was nurtured
    Lieutenant Graves and four other Navy pilots, who said in interviews with The New York Times that they saw the objects in 2014 and 2015 in training maneuvers from Virginia to Florida off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, make no assertions of their provenance.
    - The New York Times (May 26, 2019)
    Five years ago, Navy pilots started to see flying objects they could not identify during training maneuvers. The objects had no clear means of support and no engines. The military is calling these objects “unexplained aerial phenomena.” The provenance of something is where it comes from.
  7. prudent
    marked by sound judgment
    The White House is “trying to be prudent and responsible” in attempting to avoid war with Tehran, Mr. Bolton told reporters on a visit to the U.A.E. capital of Abu Dhabi.
    - The Wall Street Journal (May 29, 2019)
    National Security Advisor John Bolton has accused Iran of firing on four ships in the Persian Gulf. Bolton also said that there would be no military response by the United States, as the Trump administration tries to quiet fears that an armed conflict with Iran is inevitable and imminent. To be prudent means to think things through carefully.
  8. remission
    an abatement in intensity or degree
    In an interview with People published Wednesday, the "Jeopardy!" host revealed that he's in "near remission," according to doctors.
    - USA Today (May 29, 2019)
    Alex Trebek revealed terrific medical news this week. His doctors have told him that he is in “near remission” from his pancreatic cancer. Some of the tumors have shrunk more than 50%. Trebek credits this “mind boggling” result, at least in part, to all the good wishes he had been receiving from people across the country.
  9. respite
    a pause from doing something
    Tuesday offered no respite, as a large and dangerous tornado touched down on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, late in the day, the National Weather Service office reported.
    - Associated Press (May 28, 2019)
    Tornadoes touched down across the nation this week, with as many as 55 hitting on Monday alone. Missouri, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have been affected by one band of storms, while another grouping of tornadoes is wreaking havoc in states from Idaho to Colorado. A respite is a break, when something stops for awhile.
  10. sabotage
    a deliberate act of destruction or disruption
    The special counsel team concluded that there was no conspiracy by the Trump campaign to coordinate with Russia’s campaign of sabotage.
    - The New York Times (May 29, 2019)
    Robert Mueller spoke to the media for the first time since his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was released. Because President Trump was being investigated for possible collusion, the inquiry became very politicized. Mueller emphasized in his address, however, that Russia did intervene in our electoral process in several ways, and he said that this fact should concern “every American.” Mueller may be called to testify before Congress on this matter.

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