Ripped from the Headlines: November 2021: This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for November 6–November 12, 2021

Stories about a fish with terrifying teeth, Teslas gone haywire, and an intrepid 83-year-old hiker all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. border
    a line that indicates a boundary
    On November 8, the United States officially reopened its borders to travelers who have been fully vaccinated. The move ended 18 months of restrictions that limited travel from foreign countries into the U.S., separating families and devastating the international tourism industry. Towns along the borders with Canada and Mexico were also hit hard by the rules; their local economies depend on foreign customers.
  2. calorie
    unit of heat raising 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade
    Scientists were shocked at the results of a new study that revealed exactly how many calories baleen whales consume in a day. The enormous filter-feeding animals — which include blue, fin, and humpback whales — eat about three times more than previously thought: somewhere between 20 and 50 million calories daily. The study's lead author, Matthew Savoca, clarified that that many calories is roughly equivalent to "70 to 80 thousand Big Macs."
  3. chronic
    long-lasting or characterized by long suffering
    Recent findings suggest that chronic pain, which is estimated to affect more than a billion people worldwide, may be connected to tiny cells in the nervous system that scientists had previously overlooked. Glia, long thought of as simply connective tissue for neurons, have been revealed as the source of persistent pain signals. Chronic derives from the Greek khronos, "time."
  4. dental
    of or relating to the teeth
    The huge Pacific lingcod, a fish that weighs as much as 80 pounds, has long been known for its impressive dental attributes: inside brutally strong jaws, it has about 500 needle-sharp teeth. Now researchers have solved the lingering mystery of how the lingcod keeps its terrifying teeth so sharp. A new study shows the fish lose and replace about 20 teeth every day, keeping them constantly renewed and ready to crush even hard-shelled crabs. Dental's Latin root means "tooth."
  5. designate
    assign a name or title to
    The International Dark Sky Association designated five new official dark-sky locations this week, bringing the total to 187. To be added to the list, a location must fulfill its official standard: "a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights." The certifications are part of the group's goal of reducing light pollution and increasing the number of places with naturally dark night skies. Protected public and private land are both eligible for the designation.
  6. dormitory
    a large sleeping room containing several beds
    Archaeologists discovered a well-preserved room at the site of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. They believe the space, with its three wooden beds, functioned as a small dormitory for enslaved workers. City officials announced on November 6 that the site, which was buried under ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted 2,000 years ago, offers a rare look at the everyday lives of Pompeii’s enslaved people. Dormitory comes from the Latin root dormire, "to sleep."
  7. emission
    a substance that is released
    An investigation by The Washington Post revealed that when countries disclose their levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations, many vastly underreport those numbers. The gap between actual and reported emissions ranges from 8 billion to more than 13 billion tons per year. This unreported carbon dioxide, methane, and synthetic gas released into the atmosphere is enough to affect the Earth’s warming. The United Nations has pledged to investigate the discrepancy.
  8. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    A software update on Tesla’s autopilot system caused the cars to behave in an erratic way, abruptly slamming on the brakes when they were traveling at high speeds. The unpredictable actions of the self-driving mode spurred a recall and compelled the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider new regulations. The NHTSA has investigated previous Tesla crashes and criticized the company for safety issues. Erratic shares a root with err, meaning "mistake."
  9. eviction
    expulsion of someone, especially a tenant, from a property
    Since the Supreme Court ruled in August that extending the eviction moratorium was unconstitutional, the rate at which renters are being forced to leave their homes has been increasing. Experts fear the situation will reach crisis levels as more landlords evict their tenants — particularly in states where tenants have few legal protections, and in cities where rents are rising sharply. Eviction's root means "recovery of property."
  10. incentive
    a positive motivational influence
    Companies hoping to attract workers before the winter holiday season are offering incentives that range from higher salaries to free college tuition. Some Amazon warehouses will give new employees signing bonuses of $3,000, while Walmart has raised its minimum wage in many locations to $17 per hour. L.L. Bean hopes to entice call center workers by making the job entirely remote for the first time. Incentive was first used as economic jargon in 1943.
  11. infection
    the invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms
    Researchers in Iowa have found extensive Covid infection in the state's deer population. The study suggests that the animals are spreading the virus among themselves after initially contracting it from people. Though scientists aren't sure what type of human contact resulted in the infection of as many as 80% of Iowa’s white-tailed deer, they worry about its implications for eradicating the disease. The Latin root of infection means "to spoil or to stain."
  12. infrastructure
    basic facilities needed for the functioning of a country
    The House of Representatives voted to pass President Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes funding to repair the country's aging roads and bridges, among other public facilities. The bill would also invest in high-speed internet and electric vehicles. Measures addressing a social safety net and preparation for the effects of climate change remain on hold as moderate and progressive Democrats negotiate its final cost.
  13. meditation
    continuous and profound contemplation or musing on a subject
    By analyzing strands of hair, German scientists have found physical evidence that meditation reduces stress levels in humans. The researchers tested hair from a group undergoing mindfulness practice training, analyzing the strands for the presence of cortisol, a hormone produced during times of stress. After six months of daily breathing and mental focus, subjects had 25 percent less cortisol in their hair, and reported significantly lower levels of stress.
  14. negotiate
    discuss the terms of an arrangement
    As the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow entered its second week, representatives of 200 countries began the process of negotiating the details of an agreement. A draft published November 10 acknowledged that fossil fuels have contributed to climate change and stated that the world should limit warming to 1.5 degrees to avoid disaster. All delegates must approve the final language, and ongoing discussions will focus on hammering out a deal to cut emissions.
  15. nomad
    a member of a people who have no permanent home
    A man nicknamed "Nimblewill Nomad" became the oldest hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail at age 83, finishing his final hike in flip-flops on November 7. It was the third time Meredith Eberhart had completed the 2,190-mile trail in a thru-hike, walking the entire length in under 12 months. Many avid hikers take on or earn trail names to celebrate their accomplishments. Nimblewill Nomad's honors his years on the move — he has essentially wandered since he began hiking at age 61.
  16. nuptials
    the social event at which the marriage ceremony is performed
    Twenty-four-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was married on November 9 to Asser Malik, who works for the Pakistan Cricket Board. Yousafzai, who at age 17 was the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, announced the details of her nuptials on Twitter, sharing a photo of her new husband signing a marriage contract and herself in a pink wedding dress. Nuptials is derived from the Latin word nuptiae, "a wedding."
  17. polio
    a viral disease that can cause muscle weakness or paralysis
    In 1954, Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, gave children the first polio vaccines in the United States. On November 8, it became one of the first U.S. schools to offer Covid-19 vaccines to kids between the ages of 5 and 11. Polio, a disease that causes death and paralysis, primarily affects children. Polio is short for poliomyelitis and comes from Greek meaning "gray," as the disease causes inflammation in spinal gray matter.
  18. spelunker
    a person who explores caves
    An experienced cave explorer who was trapped in a cave in South Wales for more than 50 hours was rescued on November 8. The spelunker had been exploring the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, the deepest network of caves in Britain, when he fell and was unable to climb out. A group of rescuers worked for two days to free the fallen caver, who was transported to a hospital with a broken leg and fractured jaw. The Greek root of spelunker means "cave."
  19. troupe
    an organization of performers and associated personnel
    Indigenous Enterprise, a Native American dance troupe, has recently begun appearing at venues that normally host rap and hip-hop performers. The eight-person dance crew, which bases their choreography on traditional Native dancing, also incorporates elements of contemporary hip-hop into their shows. Dressed in their trademark Native regalia, the troupe performed this month in New York City at the Bowery Ballroom and the Joyce Theater.
  20. universal
    applicable to or common to all members of a group or set
    Among the items in a safety net spending bill being considered in Congress is funding for universal pre-kindergarten. The plan would make preschool free for every three- and four-year-old in the U.S., regardless of location or income. Many wealthy countries offer comprehensive, publicly funded school programs for young children, and studies have shown that pre-K can benefit kids into their adult lives. Universal comes from the Latin universalis, "belonging to all."
  21. vaccinate
    produce immunity in by inoculation
    Big Bird’s official Twitter account announced on November 6 that he had been vaccinated. Like every six-year-old in the U.S., the (fictional) giant yellow bird became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine when the FDA approved the inoculation for kids between the ages of 5 and 11. The first time Big Bird was vaccinated was in a 1972 episode of Sesame Street, when he received his measles vaccination.
Created on November 8, 2021 (updated November 11, 2021)

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