This Week In Words: June 13–19, 2020

Stories on questions about the President's health, conduct, and decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the news.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. acuity
    sharpness of vision
    Most recently, he and his allies have questioned the mental acuity of the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 77.
    New York Times (June 14, 2020)
    When the President gave a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he seemed to have trouble drinking a glass of water and walking down a ramp. Commentators drew attention to the two episodes, raising questions about his health and taking issues with White House denials that there's anything wrong. Acuity comes from the Latin acuitas, meaning "sharpness." It's also the origin of acute, seen often in medicine and geometry.
  2. epitomize
    embody the essential characteristics of
    Monument Avenue once epitomized racism: in the early 20th century, estate agents marketed its elegant houses as whites-only through advertisements illustrated with the statues of the Confederate leaders that dot it.
    After years of debate, statues of Confederate leaders are being torn down around the country. The most recent wave of protests has quickly changed public opinion, with large majorities now favoring the removal of such monuments and street names. There's also a movement to rename military bases named for Confederates, but the President has said he opposes doing so.
  3. flummox
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    In the memoir, Bolton describes the president's advisers as frequently flummoxed by Trump and said a variety of officials — including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Bolton himself — all considered resigning in disgust or frustration.
    Washington Post (June 17, 2020)
    Former national security advisor John Bolton published a book recounting his time in the White House, and it describes a number of events that have not been previously reported. Bolton describes the President as "erratic" and "stunningly uninformed," and says that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection in November. Flummox means "to confuse," and comes from English dialect.
  4. inequity
    injustice by virtue of not conforming with standards
    Experts say the dramatic change in opinion about police violence that has followed is an indication the country is grappling with how to confront centuries of structural racism and inequity.
    AP (June 16, 2020)
    A new poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that police brutality is a problem that disproportionately impacts Black Americans and is rarely punished. This represents a dramatic shift over just five years ago, and advocates for police reform say that recent events have shown just how serious the problem is. Equity comes from the Latin aequus, meaning "fair," so inequity is unfair.
  5. jovial
    full of or showing high-spirited merriment
    Brooks did not pose an immediate threat of death to the officers and acted in a calm and “almost jovial” manner and cooperated with the police as the incident initially unfolded, Howard told reporters.
    Reuters (June 17, 2020)
    Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks twice in the back, killing him, has been charged with felony murder. Atlanta Police Department rules forbid firing a weapon at anyone running away. Another officer present at the shooting has been charged with aggravated assault.
  6. massacre
    the savage and excessive killing of many people
    If President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes place Saturday as planned, it won't be far from locations deeply connected to what's considered the worst racial attack in U.S. history – the massacre of Black residents by white mobs in 1921.
    USA Today (June 17, 2020)
    After widespread outrage, the President changed the date of his Tulsa rally from June 19th, Juneteenth. The rescheduled event will still be held near the site of the worst racial attack in American history, the 1921 Tulsa massacre when White mobs killed at least 300 Black people in what was then the most prosperous Black neighborhood in the country. Massacre is a French word meaning "slaughter" or "butchery."
  7. quash
    put down by force or intimidation
    The Navajo Nation announced lockdowns over the next two weekends to try to help quash the outbreak.
    CNN (June 17, 2020)
    While some states have succeeded in flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections, ten states in the South and West have seen new record high rates of new cases. Many of these seem to be the result of people going out and celebrating on Memorial Day weekend and after, crowding into bars and restaurants and not wearing masks or keeping apart from others.
  8. sovereign
    not controlled by outside forces
    Russian planes breached the Alaskan air defense zone on Tuesday night and came within 32 miles of Alaskan shores, the Pentagon said, and the U.S. military scrambled F-22 Raptors to intercept two separate Russian formations before they reached sovereign American airspace.
    Washington Times (June 17, 2020)
    Russian war planes crossed into the Alaskan air defense zone, causing the U.S. Air Force to scramble F-22s to intercept them. Two formations of Russian fighters, bombers, and a control craft got within 32 nautical miles of the Alaskan coast before turning around. Observers say this was a Russian test of American air defenses.
  9. vigilante
    a person who takes the law into his or her own hands
    Officials are scrutinizing armed vigilante groups in New Mexico following the shooting of a protester calling for the removal of a controversial colonial statue.
    Guardian (June 17, 2020)
    After a protestor in Albuquerque, New Mexico was shot by a militia member, the group the gunman allegedly belongs to — called New Mexico Civil Guard — and other right-wing militias are under increased scrutiny. Groups like this around the country have been accused of provoking or starting violence at many of the protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Vigilante is Spanish, meaning "watchman," from the Latin vigilantem, meaning "watchful."
  10. vitiate
    make imperfect
    "This is extremely, extremely serious, this is going to vitiate whatever dialogue was going on," former Indian army commander DS Hooda said, commenting on Monday's clash.
    BBC (June 16, 2020)
    Tensions between India and China are at a 40-year high as clashes on their Himalayan border have turned deadly. Over 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a recent conflict, which began when India built a new road into disputed territory and China responded by building its own roads and bringing in more troops. China and India are the two most populous countries in the world, and are both nuclear powers. Vitiate comes from the Latin vitiare, meaning "to make impure" or "to spoil."
Created on June 17, 2020 (updated June 19, 2020)

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