This Week In Words: November 23–29, 2019

A Thanksgiving mega-storm, more impeachment developments, and a proposal for longer school days round out our list of vocabulary from the week's top news stories. Bundle up and tuck in for a lexical feast!
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definitions & notes only words
  1. acumen
    shrewdness shown by keen insight
    He deserves credit for his business acumen and meteoric rise in the private sector.
    Fox News (Nov 26, 2019)
    Former New York City Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg entered the Democratic primary race, buying $30 million in TV ads and causing extensive debate about what he brings to an already crowded field of contenders. While he's in favor of gun control and fighting climate change, Bloomberg is quite conservative in other areas, and used to be a registered Republican. Acumen is from a Latin word meaning "sharp".
  2. caper
    a crime (especially a robbery)
    “No. 1”—listed under the heading of bribery and extortion—“would be the Ukraine caper, because that’s such a classic example for impeachment,” he said.
    New Yorker (Nov 25, 2019)
    The impeachment hearings continue, and with each new testimony it seems that new questions arise about possible crimes and questionable ethics. Despite the fact that Democratic members of Congress are clear in their conviction that the President should be impeached, they have not said how long they think the inquiry should continue.
  3. comparable
    able to be described as similar
    Marc Spilde, a meteorologist at the Weather Service station in Medford, Ore., said the last time a comparable storm hit the region was Columbus Day in 1962.
    New York Times (Nov 26, 2019)
    Just in time for the 55 million Americans traveling for Thanksgiving, a huge storm has hit the Rockies and Midwest with hurricane-force winds and heavy snowfall. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and stretched of roads were closed due to the weather, stranding thousands. Nearly 500 flights were cancelled in and out of Denver alone. Another storm is forming off the Pacific that could follow this one.
  4. complicity
    guilt as a confederate in a crime or offense
    “The worst thing in a situation like ours is silent complicity. And that is all around us.”
    Reuters (Nov 25, 2019)
    At a climate summit, host country Spain's acting energy minister said that many countries aren't backing up their talk with action when it comes to confronting the realities of climate-related emergencies. Besides President Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro is encouraging the rapid destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and China may be building new coal power plants.
  5. missive
    a written message addressed to a person or organization
    The president published a related missive this morning, ostensibly quoting someone on Fox News describing the latest polling as “actually devastating to the Democrats.”
    MSNBC (Nov 26, 2019)
    Despite several recent polls showing that around half of the country believes that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, the Commander in Chief says that only 25% of Americans would support a conviction and his ouster. In medieval Latin, missivus meant "sent", as in a letter; it's the same root that gives us the word "mission."
  6. ranging
    wandering freely
    The possible arrival of rain also posed hazards, ranging from shifting winds to debris flows from steep mountainsides.
    Washington Post (Nov 26, 2019)
    The wildfire outside Santa Barbara caused thousands of people to evacuate from their homes. A change in the weather allowed authorities to let around 4,000 of the 5,500 people affected return to their houses. A fire may be raging and it may be wide-ranging but don't confuse the two. Raging means furious, out of control, while ranging means wandering or covering a large area.
  7. sequester
    keep away from others
    But the raid on the Financial Information Authority, or AIF, and sequester of documents, computers and cellphones prompted the Egmont Group of financial intelligence units to suspend the Vatican from its secure communications network.
    Seattle Times (Nov 26, 2019)
    The Vatican conducted a raid on its own Financial Information Authority, causing the Holy See's suspension from the Egmont Group, an international organization of 164 countries' financial intelligence agencies. The Pope defended the raid, which was associated with a London real estate investment, saying that the Vatican's own internal infrastructure identified the problem without any outside notice.
  8. strident
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    The candidates struck a strident tone in the debate last week, with several vowing to increase pressure on China over its human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.
    Washington Post (Nov 26, 2019)
    Officials in Beijing reportedly hope that Trump is reelected, saying that they believe he's easy to read and that they can sway him to do what is good for China. In the recent Democratic debate, candidates expressed concern about China's ongoing human rights violations in a number of areas, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong. No deal has been reached in the continuing trade war between the U.S. and China, and observers are unsure what effect the upcoming election season will have.
  9. subversion
    the act of overthrowing or destroying, as a government
    “The broadcaster was at work to disrupt Iran’s security, fan the flames of riots and organize acts of terror, subversion and secession across the country,” PressTV quoted the Judiciary announcement as saying.
    New York Times (Nov 26, 2019)
    Growing anti-government protests in Iran have prompted a crackdown on demonstrators and journalists who cover them. Spurred by a sudden rise in gas prices and a rationing system to manage demand, the protests quickly spread and some turned violent. Demonstrators blame the government and also sanctions imposed by the U.S. for the economic hardship. Evidence suggests that this unrest is Iran's deadliest in ten years, with possibly hundreds dead.
  10. tenuous
    lacking substance or significance
    The correlation between school day length and students' productivity is a tenuous one.
    BBC (Nov 26, 2019)
    Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has proposed requiring schools to stay open longer — though not requiring more hours in the classroom — to allow students to stay until their parents are done working. The discrepancy between parents' work hours and the shorter school days is an ongoing problem. Tenuis means thin in Latin; it gives us attenuated, something shortened or cut off, as well as tenuous, referring to something that's barely there.
Created on November 27, 2019 (updated November 28, 2019)

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