This Week In Culture: June 13–19, 2020

Stories about space travel, more repercussions from the Black Lives Matter protests, and a WNBA legend's transformation into an activist provided words for this week's list of vocabulary from the tech, culture, and sports beats.
Read more...

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. egregious
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
    All that can make for a less-egregious relationship between the police and people of color.
    New York Times (June 15, 2020)
    Jon Stewart wrote and directed a film, titled Irresistible, that premieres on June 26. The film is a political satire about a Wisconsin mayor's race that becomes about much more than that. Stewart gave an interview in which he discusses the project, and his time out of the spotlight since leaving The Daily Show. Egregius is Latin for "distinguished" or "excellent," but in English it refers to something excessive or terrible.
  2. homage
    respectful deference
    “Remember Us” is a smooth homage to Al Green, with a guest verse from socially conscience Southern rapper Rapsody that lovingly mentions Kobe, Nipsey, and Biggie, transforming tragic history into tender memory.– Rolling Stone (June 18, 2020)
    John Legend's seventh record is out, and getting good reviews for its messages of positivity and comfort. It features appearances by Rapsody, Koffee, and others. Homage is a French word, which used to mean "respect for a superior." In English, it means more of a tribute: if you create something in the style of someone else as a show of admiration for them, that's an homage.
  3. interminable
    tiresomely long; seemingly without end
    Decisions are appealed, and that process can feel interminable -- and is one that even in the event of confirmed innocence does not guarantee freedom.
    ESPN (June 18, 2020)
    Last year basketball superstar Maya Moore walked away from a stellar WNBA career to focus her life on criminal justice reform, and specifically on the case of Jonathan Irons, a man she believes was wrongly imprisoned for robbery and attempted murder. This spring, his conviction was vacated by a judge; an appeal is pending but he could be released if the state doesn't retry him. Moore has said she'll sit out the 2020 season as well, if there is one, to continue her work as an activist.
  4. jeer
    laugh at with contempt and derision
    There won’t be any fans to celebrate big plays, jeer lousy referees or for the cameras to cut to for reaction shots.
    Sports Illustrated (June 18, 2020)
    As European soccer leagues resume play, some TV networks are experimenting with adding digital crowds to the stands and fake crowd noises to the audio. Reviews so far are unfavorable; the crowds look like confetti and the noises are distracting and serve no purpose. The NFL has said it may do this when play begins later this year. Maybe they should just have a 50,000 person Zoom call?
  5. linchpin
    a central cohesive source of support and stability
    And the bees face increasing risks of disaster; in Nelson’s film The Pollinators, a 90-minute documentary on commercial beekeeping and its linchpin role in the American food supply, Adee assesses a field in Kern county, California, which appears hazy and idyllic – rows of white-bursting almond trees, dotted every couple of lines or so by palettes of Adee’s hives.
    Guardian (June 17, 2020)
    The Pollinators is a new documentary about the essential role that honeybees play in our food supply. Widespread use of pesticides is causing massive die-offs of bees, especially those used to pollinate almond crops in California. The film is meant to educate the public, to inspire people to plant flowers and stop spraying their lawns. A linchpin is a real thing: the peg on a cart axle that holds the wheel on. Now it's used metaphorically to describe something vitally important.
  6. odious
    unequivocally detestable
    As the country attempts to metabolize the murder of George Floyd, it is also attempting to reckon with every crooked, brutal, odious, or unjust murder of a black person—to understand a cycle that began centuries ago and somehow continues apace.
    New Yorker (June 17, 2020)
    Bob Dylan released Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first original work in eight years, and the first since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016. It's the thirty-ninth record overall from the artist widely esteemed as the greatest songwriter of the last fifty years. The record is dark and complex, and reviewers say it brilliantly fits this time of crisis and unrest. Odious comes from the Latin odiosus, meaning "hateful" or "offensive."
  7. precedent
    an example that is used to justify similar occurrences
    There’s some precedent for sending tiny spacecraft out to distant worlds.
    The Verge (June 17, 2020)
    Rocket Lab has big plans for its small spacecraft. It just launched its 53rd satellite into space, and has plans to send one of its Photon spacecraft to orbit the Moon next year. The Photon will contain a NASA vehicle called CAPSTONE, which will conduct experiments related to lunar orbital navigation with the purpose of making future manned missions easier.
  8. stance
    a rationalized mental attitude
    Lynn has spoken of his respect for Kaepernick’s stance in the past.
    Guardian (June 17, 2020)
    The Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly considering hiring Colin Kaepernick for the upcoming season. Kaepernick was shut out of the league after he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, but the recent shift in public opinion has NFL officials and teams expressing regret for his treatment and respect for his integrity.
  9. submissive
    inclined or willing to give in to orders or wishes of others
    Richardson said the Aunt Jemima logo is based on a "'mammy,' a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."
    CNN (June 17, 2020)
    Quaker Oats announced that it is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand after over 130 years, and the companies that own Uncle Ben's and Mrs. Butterworth's say that those brands will be reviewed and redesigned. All three have been widely criticized for years as perpetuating racist stereotypes, and recent events have made such displays publicly unacceptable.
  10. vineyard
    a farm of grapevines where wine grapes are produced
    “Ninety percent of our movie is outside in the vineyard,” Bennett said.
    Variety (June 17, 2020)
    Some TV shows and film projects are cautiously beginning production again. An indie TV move titled Harvest of the Heart began shooting last month in Oklahoma, using strict rules: testing everyone, wearing masks, maintaining distancing, and keeping the cast and crew isolated from the wider world. Most of the film takes place outdoors, and the cast is small. A vineyard is literally a "vine yard," a field planted with rows of grapevines.
Created on June 17, 2020 (updated June 19, 2020)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.