This Week In Words: May 10–16, 2020

Stories about court orders, face shields, and million-mile batteries all contributed words to this roundup of vocabulary from the week's top news stories.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. altercation
    a noisy quarrel
    There was one altercation between two protesters, in which one tried to take a sign out of another's hand, state police said.
    CNN (May 14, 2020)
    Michigan closed its state Capitol on Thursday. The legislature was not in session, but armed protestors had gathered outside for the second time in as many weeks so the state police closed the building to the public. Altercation is Latin for "dispute."
  2. bid
    an authoritative direction or instruction to do something
    Justice Rebecca Dallet, a liberal on the court, wrote in a dissenting opinion on Wednesday that the supreme court had done “the legislature’s bidding” in striking down the measure.
    Guardian (May 14, 2020)
    The Wisconsin State Supreme Court struck down the Governor's stay-at-home order. The deciding vote was cast by Republican Daniel Kelly, who recently lost an election to Democrat Jill Karofsky. Critics say that this decision is another case of the Court stripping the Governor of his authority, and that it puts the population at increased risk of illness. Bid is an Old English word, and can mean a number of things ranging from "to offer," as in an auction, to "to ask or beg."
  3. distinguished
    standing above others in character or attainment
    “We repurposed our manufacturing facilities and are working with outside vendors to produce these new face shields quickly,” said Brad Porter, a distinguished engineer and vice president of Amazon Robotics, in a statement.
    USA Today (May 14, 2020)
    Amazon has begun manufacturing face shields so that medical professionals and others can purchase them below current prices. The company's drone division is using 3-D printing and injection molding to make 20,000 shields at first, available only to frontline workers, and then more later for the larger population.
  4. hub
    a focal point around which events revolve
    Governments should treat travel hubs with caution.
    Economist (May 15, 2020)
    Evidence points to connected cities and places as being more at risk for outbreaks due to the volume of people who move through them. Cities with busy airports and other transit stations had higher infection rates and faster spread of Covid-19 than more remote areas. Hub is of unknown origin, and originally referred to the center of a wheel, from which spokes emanate, which makes sense if you think about all the flights entering and leaving an airport.
  5. jurist
    a legal scholar
    “We recognize that [D.C. and Maryland] press novel legal claims. But reasonable jurists can disagree in good faith on the merits of these claims,” wrote Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, a Clinton appointee, in the opinion for the court.
    Washington Times (May 14, 2020)
    In a 9-6 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a lawsuit against President Trump to proceed. The suit claims that he is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by profiting from his hotels and other businesses while in office. The President's legal team says that they will appeal to the Supreme Court. The Latin root jur- means "law," so any word — like jury, jurisprudence, or jurist — that contains it will relate to the legal system.
  6. negligence
    failure to act with the prudence of a reasonable person
    Bright added that even today, the country is dealing with the consequences of that early negligence and that health-care workers are still more at risk than they should be.
    Washington Post (May 14, 2020)
    Rick Bright, former director of BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the Department of Health and Human Services, testified before Congress. He said that the federal government's response to the pandemic was late, confused, full of errors, and lacking in any central leadership. He also said that talk of 12–18 months to a vaccine is not realistic.
  7. pervasive
    spreading or spread throughout
    In late March, regional Russian officials were sounding alarm bells about a drastic undersupply of protective equipment and pervasive confusion about how they were supposed to tackle the virus.
    New York Times (May 14, 2020)
    Russia is rapidly becoming a global hotspot in the pandemic. Frontline workers in hospitals are among the hardest hit as doctors and hospital staff fall ill with Covid-19. A shortage of protective gear is one of the reasons, as is a government that seems intent on downplaying the severity of the crisis. Pervade is a Latin verb meaning "to spread, extend, or diffuse."
  8. plunge
    dash violently or with great speed or impetuosity
    Mr Burr and his wife sold as much as $1.7m (£1.4m) of equities in February, just before markets plunged on fears of an economic crisis.
    BBC (May 14, 2020)
    Senator Richard Burr stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee after becoming the subject of an investigation into allegations of insider trading. The Senator sold nearly $2 million in stocks shortly before the market crashed as a result of the pandemic, even as he told the public that there was nothing to worry about. Other Senators — Republicans Kelly Loeffler and James Inhofe and Democrat Dianne Feinstein — engaged in similar trades but are not under investigation.
  9. specify
    be particular about
    Earlier this year, it said only that it planned to “drive battery cell costs below $100/kWh” without specifying a timetable.
    Reuters (May 14, 2020)
    Tesla's new battery design, due to be released later this year or early next in the Model 3, is supposed to lower the cost of the car and last much longer than current designs. This feature, besides bringing the price of electric cars in line with gas-powered models, will also allow the batteries to be recycled and used as part of a decentralized power grid in the future.
  10. tally
    the act of counting; reciting numbers in ascending order
    To see if Trump’s company was living up to that professed standard, The Post tallied all the available records that showed Trump’s company charging Trump’s government for room rentals.
    Washington Post (Mat 14, 2020)
    After Eric Trump said that government employees are only charged "like 50 bucks” a night when they stay at Trump properties, the Washington Post investigated the claim. In fact they found that the lowest price on record was $141.66, and the highest was $650 per night. In total, the government has paid at least $970,000 to the Trump organization since he took office.
Created on May 14, 2020 (updated May 15, 2020)

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