This Week in Words: June 29–July 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.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. billowing
    characterized by great swelling waves or surges
    The morning rush-hour blast, which shook the center of the Afghan capital and sent smoke billowing into the clear summer sky, came as the latest round of talks between U.S. and Taliban negotiators to end the nearly 18-year Afghan war entered a third day in the Gulf state of Qatar.
    - The Wall Street Journal (July 1, 2019)
    A bomb placed by the Taliban exploded in Kabul, Afghanistan this week, killing dozens of people. The violence comes as the United States is negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been meeting with Afghani officials to try and work out the withdrawal of troops to conclude the 18-year conflict.
  2. decisive
    unmistakable
    “Toy Story 4” has a friend in the box office. The Disney Pixar sequel took home another $17 million in Friday ticket sales, leading to a decisive victory over weekend openers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday.”
    - Variety (June 29, 2019)
    Toy Story 4 was number one at the box office for the second week in a row. It was a slow week at the box office overall. Decisive Is a word to use when there is no question that something is the case. A decisive person has made up their mind and has no doubts. A decisive victory isn’t even close.
  3. emphatic
    sudden and strong
    On Monday, tennis got an emphatic answer as Gauff, displaying remarkable poise, upset Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round of Wimbledon.
    - The New York Times (July 1, 2019)
    Cori Gauff, who at 15 is the youngest tennis player at Wimbledon this year, beat Venus Williams, the oldest player in the tournament. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are among Cori Gauff’s idols. Venus is 39 years old, and won two Wimbledon championships before Gauff was even born. Emphatic describes something firm, forceful, and assertive. A decisive victory can make an emphatic statement.
  4. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    The city council unanimously approved a month-long program that will allow motorists to pay off their parking tickets and driving infractions by donating school supplies and educational materials.
    - Good News Network (July 1, 2019)
    The city of Las Vegas is trying something innovative to solve a problem. For the next month, parking tickets and citations for other minor vehicular infractions can be paid in school supplies that will be donated to students in need. The supplies must be brand-new.
  5. invasive
    relating to a technique in which the body is entered
    Until now, however, BCIs [ Brain-Computer Interfaces] that have been successful in controlling robotic arms have used only invasive brain implants.
    - Good News Network (June 30, 2019)
    Immense progress has been made recently in the field of robotics to help those with artificial limbs. The technology has advanced to the point where there will soon be no need for invasive brain surgery to insert the control mechanism. Essentially, the patients are able to just think about moving the limb and it obeys. In addition, the interfaces have gotten much smoother and more sensitive, ensuring that there is little delay between mental command and physical action.
  6. lineage
    the kinship relation between an individual and progenitors
    Markle hugged Red Sox star Mookie Betts — who, according to The Boston Globe, discovered last year that he is a distant relative of Markle's. Their lineages can both be traced back to a small town in Alabama, according to the newspaper.
    - USA Today (June 29, 2019)
    A Major League Baseball game was played in England for the first time ever, and Harry and Meghan were in attendance to watch the Red Sox and Yankees play ball. It turns out that the Duchess is distantly related to a player on the Red Sox, outfielder Mookie Betts. The two games were unusually high scoring affairs, with the Yankees winning both. Your lineage is your family line going back for generations.
  7. pretext
    a fictitious reason that conceals the real reason
    In a June 14 memo that could be a preview of the government’s defense, the Office of Legal Counsel contended that Mr. Mnuchin was justified in determining that Mr. Neal’s stated reasons for seeking the returns are pretexts for releasing them to the public.
    - The Wall Street Journal (July 2, 2019)
    The House Ways and Means Committee is suing the Treasury Department in order to compel it to hand over President Trump’s tax returns. It is customary for presidential candidates to disclose their tax records, but the President did not do that in 2016 and hasn’t since. Critics of the President believe he is hiding something, while his defenders hold that the legal reasons cited in the lawsuit are false excuses, or pretexts, and that his opponents just want to persecute the President.
  8. squalid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said Tuesday.
    - The New York Times (July 2, 2019)
    Both the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and a contingent of Democrats from the House of Representatives have toured detention facilities along the southern border recently. They report that the migrants in these centers are living in terrible conditions, including lack of access to showers and running water. Officials from the Trump administration are disputing the claims. Congress is scheduled to hold hearings about the allegedly squalid conditions.
  9. trajectory
    the path followed by an object moving through space
    "Round 1 of the Democratic debates puts Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden on two different trajectories, as support for Harris surges but continues to slip for Biden," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement. "Biden's once-commanding lead has evaporated," she added.
    - NBC News (July 2, 2019)
    After her performance at the Democratic debate last week, Senator Kamala Harris has pulled into a statistical dead heat with former Vice President Joe Biden, who had been the front runner. Harris directly confronted Biden at the debate about his record on political issues concerning race. Here, the word trajectory is used metaphorically, to describe the rise of Harris and the decline of Biden, as if their campaigns were moving objects going in opposite directions.
  10. unprecedented
    novel; having no earlier occurrence
    ...the president stepped across a low concrete border marker at 3:46 p.m. local time and walked 20 paces to the base of a building on the North Korean side for an unprecedented, camera-friendly demonstration of friendship intended to revitalize stalled talks.
    - The New York Times (June 30, 2019)
    President Trump made history this week by becoming the first sitting President ever to step foot in North Korea. Trump is attempting to restart negotiations with Kim Jung Un of North Korea, to get him to stop missile tests. The two leaders have met previously, but they have not yet signed a concrete agreement. It is hoped that the historic meeting will be more than just symbolic and that real progress can be made in the coming months when talks resume.

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