This Week In Culture, September 7–13, 2019

We've scoured this week's arts, tech, and sports news and rounded up our favorite vocab words from the stories that everyone's buzzing about.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. apiary
    a shed containing a number of beehives
    "Known as an apiary, the hives are located next to a lilac garden off a busy street."
    – Seattle Times (Sep 10, 2019)
    Beekeeping programs around the country are buzzing with glee at their success helping veterans with PTSD or brain injuries overcome trauma and feel more at ease. In some cases, the goal is to train professional beekeepers, while in others it's strictly therapeutic. As a result, researchers are beginning to clinically study the effects of this ancient occupation. Sweet!
  2. detritus
    the remains of something that has been destroyed or finished
    "His New York studio was a jumble of detritus from a creative life, including the word “EAT” scrawled on a wall by bohemian musician and writer Patti Smith."
    Washington Post (Sep 10, 2019)
    Robert Frank, one of the most important photographers of all time, died this week at the age of 94. His 1958 book The Americans influenced a generation of photographers with its honest and, well, frank portrayal of people all over the country in the post-WWII period.
  3. disparage
    express a negative opinion of
    “'I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,' he says, which is a pretty double-edged compliment since the earlier compositions he’s implicitly disparaging include Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
    Guardian (Sep 11, 2019)
    Recordings made 50 years ago this week after the recording of Abbey Road show that the Beatles were struggling with the issues that would break the band up a few months later. Band biographer Mark Lewisohn used the recordings and a wealth of other research to create a multimedia stage show that tells the story of the group's final burst of creative energy together. To disparage is to insult someone or something, but in a way that makes it clear that you think you're superior.
  4. livery
    a uniform, especially worn by servants and chauffeurs
    "A Haas spokesman said the cars would retain the black and gold livery for the rest of the season but without the energy drink company’s branding."
    Reuters (Sep 9, 2019)
    Haas F1, the only U.S.-owned Formula One team, will no longer be sponsored by Rich Energy drinks. Livery comes from the French liveré, where it referred to the handing over of rations to servants or employees. Since servants often wore uniforms, the meaning extended to cover those uniforms, including matching colors or decorations on those worn by horses. As horses were replaced by cars, the meaning moved into the automotive world.
  5. motley
    consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds
    "Here is the motley collection of folks who are invested in making these clothes."
    Washington Post (Sep 9, 2019)
    When he came out on the runway post-show to take his bow, fashion designer Brandon Maxwell brought his team of tailors and pattern-makers and assistants out on stage to share in the applause. Motley originally referred to cloth made of multiple colors sewn or woven together, and was the traditional costume of the court jester or harlequin, making it a good word to use in a piece about fashion (or hair metal from the '80s).
  6. multifaceted
    having many aspects
    “'Regina King is a multifaceted talent both behind and in front of the camera,' said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix."
    Ebony (Sep 9, 2019)
    Academy Award-winning actor/director/producer Regina King recently signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix. She won the Oscar for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk and was named one of Time magazine's Most Influential People of 2019. A beautifully cut diamond is multifaceted; the same can be said about someone who is talented in more than one area. A fun side note: Regina means "queen" in Latin, so her name literally means "Queen King".
  7. penchant
    a strong liking
    "In Earth’s atmosphere, water vapor’s penchant for absorbing light limits the effectiveness of ground-based telescopes."
    Smithsonian (Sep 11, 2019)
    A planet 110 light years from Earth has been discovered that has water vapor in its atmosphere. The possibility that liquid water may be present has scientists excited. Though it's very different from our planet — much bigger and closer to its star — it exists in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" where it's neither too hot nor cold for life as we know it to potentially exist.
  8. phenomenon
    a remarkable development
    "'It’s grown into much more than a location. It’s a phenomenon that can only promise absolute safety and peace, and we need to move the festival to guarantee that.'"
    USA Today (Sep 11, 2019)
    The organizer of Alienstock, the music festival that arose out of the "Storm Area 51" idea that went viral, has cancelled plans for the event and will be throwing a big party in Las Vegas instead. Citing the lack of facilities and liquid water in the atmosphere necessary to support a large crowd, and fearing a repeat of the Fyre festival scandal, creator Matty Roberts made the decision this week. The real reason? We're not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens.
  9. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object as cast by its shadow
    "The South Korean automaker says the name and the brackets are partly a reference to the 45-degree angles at the front and rear, 'forming a diamond-shaped silhouette that further foreshadows the design direction of future EV models.'”
    The Verge (Sep 10, 2019)
    Hyundai showed off its 45 concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Sleek and retro-looking, it's meant to evoke their Pony Coupe from 1974, the first model the company exported. The word comes from Étienne de Silhouette, an eighteenth-century French politician, who reportedly decorated his château (castle) with outlined portraits that he drew.
  10. voluminous
    large in capacity or bulk
    "Ford put wide pleats on the front of voluminous long skirts and offered plenty of New Yorkers’ favorite color: black."
    Washington Times (Sep 9, 2019)
    Designer Tom Ford held his spring 2020 show in an abandoned subway station in New York. Volume originally meant a parchment scroll in Latin, which evolved to mean a collection of writings bound together, which is why encyclopedias come in volumes. We use volume most commonly today in terms of music, especially regarding the pumping up thereof.
Created on September 11, 2019 (updated September 16, 2019)

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