This Week in Words: August 3–9, 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. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
    As a means of providing clean drinking water to countless arid regions around the world, scientists have developed a new technique for filtering salt water using a thin piece of wood.
    - Good News Network (Aug 5, 2019)
    Scientists at Princeton University have developed a new filtration system that is inspired by the way trees move water through their bark. As water passes through a very thin piece of wood, salts and other particles are left behind, which purifies the water.
  2. blistering
    harsh or corrosive in tone
    Former vice president Joe Biden plans Wednesday to accuse President Trump of having “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation” in a blistering speech set to be delivered in Iowa as Trump visits two cities mourning horrific mass shootings.
    - The Washington Post (Aug 7, 2019)
    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a speech in Iowa that was sharply critical of the President in the wake of the two recent mass shootings. Biden suggested that President Trump’s comments about immigrants are partly responsible for inciting the attack in El Paso, which was carried out by a white supremacist. Blistering means caustic, scathing and withering.
  3. detrimental
    causing harm or injury
    The change in policy is expected to have detrimental effects on North Korea’s tourism industry — tourist travel to North Korea is permitted through guided tours...
    - Time (Aug 6, 2019)
    Diplomatic tensions escalated between North Korea and the U.S. this week. Until now, tourists traveling back from North Korea to the U.S. could return without a visa. Now, those who want to return must apply for a visa and pay for re-entry, which will create significant delays the return of these travelers. Detrimental means harmful or destructive.
  4. haphazard
    dependent upon or characterized by chance
    Looking more closely at why overproduction of follistatin results in disorganized hair cells, the researchers found that high levels of this protein caused precursor cells to divide more frequently, which in turn made more of them convert into inner hair cells in a haphazard way.
    - Good News Network (Aug 5, 2019)
    Scientists at Johns Hopkins University believe they have isolated the protein responsible for the growth of the hairs that facilitate the sense of hearing. These researchers believe that their discovery could eventually restore the hearing of some people who have gone deaf by regenerating the important hairs. Haphazard means disorganized and unsystematic and describes how the new hairs grow.
  5. insurgent
    a person who takes part in an armed insurrection
    Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said the group was responsible for the attack, adding that the insurgents targeted a recruitment center for Afghan forces and that many soldiers were killed or wounded.
    - The New York Times (Aug 7, 2019)
    A truck bomb exploded in Kabul, Afghanistan this week, killing fourteen people and injuring 145 others. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place outside a police station. The violence is believed to be intended to disrupt ongoing peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban representatives. An insurgent is a rebel or a revolutionary.
  6. interim
    serving during an intermediate interval of time
    The Office of Management and Budget is set to issue an interim rule this week that will lay out steps to ensure U.S government agencies aren’t doing business with Huawei and several other Chinese companies, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Aug 7, 2019)
    The U.S. government is about to pass a rule that forbids American agencies from doing business with Chinese companies that it considers a security risk, including telecommunications giant Huawei. Huawei is challenging the measure in court, but in the interim, or meantime, the U.S. can pass a version of the rule that will go into effect in the middle of August.
  7. rancor
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    The president stands accused of embracing hateful rhetoric and dodging calls for gun control, prompting divided feelings in both places about whether his arrival will provide comfort or incite rancor.
    - The New York Times (Aug 6, 2019)
    In the aftermath of this week’s mass shootings, President Trump invited leaders from the tech industry to the White House to discuss measures they can take to police chat sites looking for people who are planning violent acts. Rhetoric here refers to the President’s way of talking — how he goes about speaking in terms of both content and style.
  8. rhetoric
    using language effectively to please or persuade
    But Trump maintained his rhetoric — including attacks on his political foes, immigrants and other groups — played no role in coarsening conversation online and spawning violence.
    - The Washington Post (Aug 7, 2019)
    Amazon has brought new life to the staid, or unadventurous, delivery business by starting its own delivery service, which means you won’t be getting your Prime box from a FedEx truck anymore. However, some industry veterans wonder if Amazon will have the new service fully operational in time for the busy holiday season.
  9. staid
    characterized by dignity and propriety
    The once staid delivery business has been upended in recent years as consumers buy everything from toilet paper to trampolines online, causing a surge in e-commerce shipments.
    - The Wall Street Journal (Aug 7, 2019)
    The delivery company Federal Express will no longer be delivering packages for Amazon. Amazon is starting its own delivery business, but some industry veterans are wondering if Amazon will have their service fully operational in time for the busy holiday season. Amazon has brought new life to the staid , or unadventurous, delivery business by virtue of the huge variety of products they offer and the speed of delivery they promise.
  10. succession
    the action or process of taking over an office or position
    The 29-page ruling, which states that Mr. Pierluisi “cannot remain in the position of governor,” will take effect at 5 p.m., “to guarantee an orderly succession.”
    - The New York Times (Aug 7, 2019)
    The people of Puerto Rico recently demanded that their Governor resign, and he did. Then the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico decided that his replacement, Pedro R. Pierluisi, was sworn in illegally, and he was removed from office as well. Now there’s a new Governor, Wanda Vasquez, who has minimal leadership experience. Rumors are already flying that Vasquez may not be Governor for a long time either.

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