This Week in Words: July 20–26, 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.
definitions & notes only words
  1. apprehend
    take into police custody
    According to Galan and the Morning News, agents apprehended Galicia on suspicion that he was in the U.S. illegally even though he had a Texas state ID.
    - Time (July 23, 2019)
    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) released a man that they mistakenly apprehended, or took into custody, three weeks ago. Francisco Erwin Galicia was wrongfully held on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant but he is, in fact, a citizen of the United States. Activist groups are seizing on cases like Galicia’s to point out the problems with America’s immigration policy.
  2. cabal
    a clique that seeks power usually through intrigue
    A few minutes later, Mr. Trump retweeted Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative organization: “No collusion. No obstruction, No impeachment. Shut the coup cabal down!”
    - The New York Times (July 24, 2019)
    President Trump took to Twitter to react to this week’s Congressional testimony by former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. The President went so far as to thank the Democrats, his political rivals, for holding the hearings which many observers say made Democratic leaders and Mueller look bad. A cabal is a group of people that pursue underhanded aims in secret so they will not be exposed.
  3. catalyst
    something that causes an important event to happen
    Around the world, the catalyst for fishery recovery—and the social, cultural and economic benefits that come along with it—has been a legally binding requirement to rebuild fish populations and prevent them from becoming depleted.
    - Good News Network (July 22, 2019)
    There is now a law in Canada that requires the replenishment of fish populations, which is one way to improve the health of the Earth’s oceans. The plan also has potentially beneficial economic consequences for nearby communities involved in the repopulation effort. A catalyst provides the stimulus for an event to occur. It makes something else happen.
  4. concession
    a point that is yielded
    A panel of national security officials and the chairman of the FCC already blessed the deal subject to certain conditions. But Justice Department officials tasked with reviewing the deal solely on its antitrust effects demanded more concessions to preserve the U.S. wireless market’s four-provider structure.
    - The Wall Street Journal (July 24, 2019)
    The Justice Department will approve the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Mergers within the same industry can lead to less competition and create a monopoly, which usually concerns the government. To avoid this, one of the two companies will have to sell assets to a third company, keeping the overall competition in the wireless industry about the same by making the third company into an important competitor. A concession is something one gives up in order to reach a compromise.
  5. exculpate
    pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
    Asked whether the report exonerated Trump on the question of obstruction of justice, Mueller said: "That is not what the report said. The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.”
    - Reuters (July 24, 2019)
    Mueller’s testimony before Congress this week was largely an affirmation of the content of his previously released report. Mueller emphasized that his findings did not clear the President of obstruction of justice. Trump has often claimed that the report found there to be no collusion and no obstruction, but Mueller made a point of saying that the president was not exculpated of those charges.
  6. irreparable
    impossible to rectify or amend
    U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied a request for a temporary restraining order sought by two immigrant-rights organizations, saying that the groups had failed to show that they—as opposed to the immigrants they serve—would suffer irreparable harm if the rules weren’t enjoined.
    - The Wall Street Journal (July 24, 2019)
    Earlier this month, President Trump revealed his plan to change the rules under which an immigrant can seek asylum in the U.S. Two activist groups appeared in court this week, claiming that the proposal would do irreparable, or permanent, harm to the immigrants denied asylum. The organizations lost, with the judge pointing out that those in court, the activists, would not be affected by these changes, and therefore they weren’t in a position to sue.
  7. labyrinthine
    resembling a maze in form or complexity
    But he has nonetheless promised to carry out Britain’s labyrinthine exit from the European Union by Oct. 31 — a challenge that confounded his predecessor, Prime Minister Theresa May, for the three years she held office.
    - The New York Times (July 23, 2019)
    Boris Johnson, the leader of the U.K.’s Conservative Party, became the new British Prime Minister this week. Theresa May, the previous Prime Minister, resigned because she could not broker a deal for Britain to exit the European Union which Parliament would accept. Now Johnson faces an October 31st deadline to accomplish what May could not. Labyrinthine describes a problem so extremely complicated that it threatens to overwhelm those who try to solve it.
  8. lexicon
    a language user's knowledge of words
    Though there are some British Sign Language (BSL) translations for scientific vocabulary words, the lexicon becomes fairly limited for college-level communication.
    - Good News Network (July 23, 2019)
    A deaf student at the University of Dundee in Scotland has developed signs in British Sign Language (BSL) for the technical terminology he encounters in his science classes. Words that don’t have signs associated with them have to be finger-spelled by interpreters, and that can take some time when long names of chemical compounds are involved. A lexicon is a like a mental dictionary of the words you know and use.
  9. repudiation
    rejecting or disowning or disclaiming as invalid
    His ouster by popular demand meant more to Puerto Ricans than a rejection of Mr. Rosselló’s administration. It amounted to a resounding repudiation of decades of mismanagement and decline that everyday people blamed on politicians in San Juan and Washington.
    - The New York Times (July 24, 2019)
    After intense protests by citizens in the streets of Puerto Rico calling for his removal, the Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló has resigned. Recently leaked transcripts of conversations with his staff revealed crude remarks about those who died in Hurricane Maria and suggested possible corruption in the administration. A repudiation is a refusal or a disavowal.
  10. stark
    devoid of any qualifications or disguise or adornment
    It was both the most explicit warning to date since protests began in the former British colony and a stark reminder of who has ultimate control over Hong Kong’s fate.
    - The New York Times (July 24, 2019)
    The protests in Hong Kong over an extradition bill that would make residents there subject to the laws of mainland China have intensified, and this week China suggested that it may send military forces to Hong Kong to control the demonstrations. If China does in fact send troops, it would be an unprecedented move that the whole world will be watching. Stark means obvious and clear, and is usually used to describe something serious or dangerous.

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