This Week In Words: November 16–22, 2019

From bans on fracking and vaping, to exciting green tech breakthroughs, to impeachment bombshells — we've followed the twists and turns of the week's news and collected words to satisfy the most voracious vocabularian.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. abatement
    the act of making less active or intense
    The New York attorney general’s office is seeking a permanent injunction against Juul and an order forcing the company to pay into an abatement fund to rid of the “public nuisance it caused,” James said.
    The Verge (Nov 19, 2019)
    New York Attorney General Laetitia James filed a lawsuit against Juul, the makers of e-cigarettes. She says that the company's ads are targeting children, and that they are misleading consumers about possible health risks associated with vaping. New York City and State are both debating banning e-cigarettes, though the Trump administration recently backtracked on a proposed national ban on flavored vape cartridges.
  2. incensed
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    Others are incensed by the routine murders of indigenous leaders and local activists.
    Guardian (Nov 20, 2019)
    Columbia will close its borders in the face of growing unrest in the country and across South America. Protests against right-wing President Iván Duque are gaining momentum. Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela are also dealing with widespread demonstrations against their governments. The closures are anti-protest measures and are expected to last until Friday. If incensed sounds like incense, it should; they both come from the Latin incendere meaning "to set on fire."
  3. insatiable
    impossible to fulfill, appease, or gratify
    And that's a problem because the world has an insatiable appetite for those materials.
    CNN (Nov 19, 2019)
    A company called Heliogen has used a precisely controlled array of mirrors to direct solar energy into a small area, achieving the intense temperatures — over 1,000˚C — necessary to manufacture steel and concrete. Those heavy industries are very carbon-intensive, so the prospect of converting factories to green energy has attracted lots of investors, including Bill Gates. To satiate is to satisfy, especially hunger, so insatiable means "impossible to satisfy."
  4. languish
    lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief
    After Matthew, the application languished, as officials asked the developers for more information, according to a timeline later submitted as part of the Galiotoses’ lawsuit against the city.
    New York Times (Nov 19, 2019)
    More and more towns and cities are responding to climate change by limiting development and new construction. While new housing and commercial development is still growing fast, some communities are restricting building on or near wetlands or flood-prone areas. Protecting these sensitive zones is seen as critical to prevent flooding. In Latin, languere means "to be faint, weak, or unwell." Languid is the adjective you'd use to describe a sluggish river or a muggy afternoon.
  5. moratorium
    suspension of an ongoing activity
    The moratorium will not affect existing wells, which will be assessed individually.
    Seattle Times (Nov 19, 2019)
    California stopped approving any new fracking permits and banned a different form of drilling that uses pressurized steam to extract oil from the ground. Governor Gavin Newsom says that more oversight is needed, and that fossil fuel extraction should be phased out as part of the state's transition toward sustainable energy.
  6. peddle
    sell or offer for sale from place to place
    But their testimony was sharply at odds with the stories about Ukraine peddled by Mr. Nunes.
    Washington Post (Nov 19, 2019)
    Two witnesses called by Republicans to testify in the impeachment hearings did not contradict the emerging story that President Trump conditioned U.S. aid for Ukraine on an announcement that that country was investigating Hunter and Joe Biden for corruption. Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, both U.S. government officials who worked on and in Ukraine, both said that the allegations against the Bidens are false and that the aid was withheld to force the investigation.
  7. proprietary
    protected by trademark or patent or copyright
    Fain talks about Bowery’s operating system, “the brains and central nervous system of our farm, with a plant-monitoring system and proprietary deep-learning algorithms” that help predict what will happen to each crop.
    Washington Post (Nov 19, 2019)
    Indoor farming in former industrial sites is attracting attention from investors as a possible solution to potential food shortages in a changing climate. But costs can be high, so the feasibility of large-scale vertical farms is still unknown. Proprietarius means "owner" in Latin — where we get proprietor from — so proprietary refers to something, usually knowledge or technology, that is owned exclusively.
  8. quid pro quo
    something given in exchange for something else
    Was there a ‘ quid pro quo?’” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
    Washington Post (nov 20, 2019)
    E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified before the impeachment hearings, and stated clearly that President Trump specifically asked Ukraine's President to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden in exchange for the $400 million in aid that Congress approved. Sondland also implicated the Vice President and the Secretary of State in the plan. Quid pro quo is Latin, meaning "something for something." It's often used to describe the deals at the center of bribery cases.
  9. tortuous
    marked by repeated turns and bends
    But in the eyes of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, it was anything but, opening the door to a decade of tortuous trade talks and a sell-off of Britain’s cherished public services.
    New York Times (Nov 19, 2019)
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson debated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the run-up to the general election next month. Brexit loomed large over the proceedings, with Johnson favoring it and Corbyn not taking a position. Don't confuse tortuous with torturous; where the latter means extremely painful, like torture, the former just means twisty and convoluted, like a steep mountain trail. It comes from tortus, "twisting" in Latin, the same root that gives us torque.
  10. tout
    advertise in strongly positive terms
    In internal company documents, however, Mundipharma treated the program as part of its marketing strategy and used it to tout the superiority of its own products.
    Washington Times (Nov 19, 2019)
    Mundipharma, a company owned by the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma, has been using some of the same marketing methods in China that got Purdue in so much trouble in this country. Records show Mundipharma sales pitches featuring the false claim that OxyContin is less addictive than other opioids, and some sales reps have been caught impersonating doctors and copying private medical records without permission. Purdue is facing thousands of lawsuits over these tactics in the U.S.
Created on November 19, 2019 (updated November 22, 2019)

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