This Week In Words: August 31–September 6, 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. apotheosis
    model of excellence or perfection of a kind
    "To many progressives, Obamacare represented the apotheosis of this strategic folly."
    The New York Times (Aug 27, 2019)
    In 2016, the Democratic Party wrote language about health care into its platform before the general election. The result frustrated many progressives who wanted single-payer or Medicare for all included as a goal. Many of the candidates for the Democratic nomination now favor some version of this concept, so the party platform will likely reflect that next year. Apotheosis is Greek, meaning "from God".
  2. deviation
    a variation from the standard or norm
    “'The increasing size of Dorian’s windfield along with any deviation to the left of the forecast track will bring hurricane-force winds onshore along portions of the Florida east coast,' Brown said."
    The Guardian (Sep 3, 2019)
    Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas for two days, doing massive amounts of damage before slowly moving on and losing strength. While there are still storm warnings up the Atlantic coast to Virginia, the storm appears to be headed out to sea. Predicting the weather has become much more exact with supercomputers, but small changes can make a dramatic difference in the course of a storm.
  3. expropriate
    deprive of possessions
    "Now, Brazilians are using that language of feeding the world, and planting every last acre by expropriating rain forest from indigenous people if Chinese demand dictates it."
    The Guardian (Aug 31, 2019)
    The trade war with China is fueling the fires in the Amazon. Since the President's tariffs, China has looked elsewhere for key products like soybeans. Brazil is now the main source of soy for China, and Brazilian farmers are aggressively clearing land to make room for more. Appropriate can mean proper, but it can also mean to take or use. Expropriate also means to take, but usually in the context of a government seizing private property.
  4. incumbent
    currently holding an office
    “'Republican incumbents and Donald Trump are far weaker in the challenger states than people realize.'”
    New York Times (Aug 31, 2019)
    Which party controls the Senate will determine how much the next President — whoever it may be — will be able to accomplish beginning in 2021. The electoral map favors Democrats, since there are more endangered Republican seats in play, but with so many months to go before the election it's anybody's guess what will happen. As baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."
  5. pinnacle
    the highest level or degree attainable
    "When President Trump presided over the battle tanks and fighter jets, the fireworks and adoring fans on July 4, he couldn’t have known that the militaristic “Salute to America” — as well as to himself — would end up as the apparent pinnacle of the season."
    Washington Post (Sep 1, 2019)
    While public statements by the White House describe this summer as very successful for the President, some of his aides privately express frustration at the way the summer has gone since July 4. Controversies, contradictions, a growing trade war, souring relationships with allies — there have been a number of recent events that have shifted the narrative in Washington at a time when the President has the stage to himself because Congress is on vacation.
  6. prorogue
    adjourn by royal prerogative
    "The UK government is opposing the move, and argues it acted within its powers by seeking to prorogue Parliament."
    BBC (Sep 3, 2019)
    A Scottish court upheld the legality of Boris Johnson's decision to shorten Parliament's session in the chaotic period before the Brexit deadline. This move has created a scandal, and since doing it he has lost his majority. New elections may happen soon, and the House of Commons voted to prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening. That now needs to pass the House of Lords. It's all very confusing; prorogue doesn't mean "go rogue" but in this particular case it's not far off.
  7. senescent
    growing old
    "These so-called “zombie” cells linger and proliferate as we age, emitting substances that cause inflammation and turn other healthy cells senescent, ultimately leading to tissue damage throughout the body."
    The Guardian (Sep 2, 2019)
    As we age, dead cells build up in our organs and tissues. Research on drugs that can remove these cells from our bodies is showing promise and attracting lots of investment from the tech sector. This branch of science is now called senolytics, and doctors are optimistic that an effective anti-aging treatment might be available within ten years or so. Soon, we may not need fame in order to live forever. (Learning how to fly might take longer.)
  8. stoke
    stir up
    "The slide in bond yields was prompted by a disappointing manufacturing report that stoked fears of an economic slowdown. "
    USA Today (Sep 3, 2019)
    An increasing number of signs point to a likely recession in the near future. New tariffs on China and a slump in manufacturing have increased the predictions of a downturn; stock markets fell and bond yields did as well. In this case, stoking fears is a bad thing, but if you're stoked you're psyched about something.
  9. stricture
    severe criticism
    "The Justice Department’s inspector general, in a report last week, found Mr. Comey broke both of those strictures."
    Washington Times (Sep 1, 2019)
    A Justice Department Inspector general released a report stating that former FBI Director James Comey violated department rules by leaking the contents of the notes he took during his meetings with the President. Comey is believed to have done this in order to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to investigate obstruction of justice by the President.
  10. wrack
    the destruction or collapse of something
    "Large demonstrations wracked the city again over the weekend."
    Reuters (Sep 2, 2019)
    Carrie Lam, leader of Hong Kong, said recently that she would resign over the response to the law she proposed allowing Hong Kong residents suspected of crimes on the mainland to be extradited to China to face trial. Protests since the law was proposed have been huge and show no signs of stopping. Many residents of Hong Kong consider themselves British, or at least not Chinese, and they want to remain largely independent.
Created on September 3, 2019 (updated September 11, 2019)

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