Ripped from the Headlines: May 2022: This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for May 7–May 13, 2022

Stories about a horse race, a heroic pizza delivery driver, and the new Dr. Who all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
20 words 475 learners

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Full list of words from this list:

  1. affordable
    reasonably priced
    On May 9, the White House announced a new program that will make high-speed internet affordable for low-income Americans. The Affordable Connectivity Program, a joint effort between the Biden administration and 20 internet companies, will provide connections of 100 megabits per second available to about 48 million households. The cost for the fast service will be no more than $30 per month for those who qualify as low earners.
  2. cognitive
    relating to or involving the mental process of knowing
    Australian neuroscientists have published the results of a study that reveals some of the cognitive processes behind the common phenomenon of seeing human faces in inanimate objects. Most people have perceived two eyes and a mouth when looking at the moon, a car's headlights, or a tree trunk. The research showed that face-like images trigger the brain to process them the same way it recognizes and analyzes real human faces. Congnitive derives from a root meaning "to know."
  3. combat
    an engagement fought between two military forces
    First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Ukraine on May 8 to meet with that country's first lady, Olena Zelenska. It is highly unusual for a president's spouse to enter an active combat zone. Biden timed the visit to fall on Mother's Day and said she intended to highlight U.S. support for Ukrainians in the midst of a "brutal war." Zelenska praised what she called "a very courageous act" by Biden. The Latin root of combat means "fight with each other."
  4. delivery
    the act of bringing or distributing something
    As she was making a pizza delivery, Massachusetts DoorDash driver Sophia Furtado found her customer, Caryn Hebert Sullivan, unconscious in her driveway. Luckily for Sullivan, Furtado's expertise extended beyond conveying food orders: her EMT training allowed her to calmly inform a 911 dispatcher of the woman's condition, stabilize Sullivan's neck, and stop the bleeding from where she'd hit her head. Furtado plans to continue her efforts toward an eventual goal of being a paramedic.
  5. derby
    an annual horse race, especially one for 3-year-old horses
    The 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7 ended in a surprising win for Rich Strike, a last-minute substitute for another horse that was pulled from the race. The odds against him were 80–1, and he only took the lead in the last few seconds. The Derby, known as "the greatest two minutes in sports," is the first of the three horse racing competitions in the Triple Crown. Derby comes from an 18th-century British horse race that honored the Earl of Derby.
  6. dictator
    a ruler who is unconstrained by law
    On May 11, the son of ousted former dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared victory in the Philippines presidential election. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who is commonly known as "Bongbong," said that he intends to unite the nation and be a president for all Filipinos. It's a historic return to power for the family more than 30 years after the two-decade authoritarian regime of Marcos, Sr., infamous for its human rights abuses, was toppled in 1986.
  7. immune
    relating to or conferring resistance to disease
    According to the CDC, about 60 percent of Americans have been infected with Covid-19; now scientists are eager to study those who seem to be immune to the virus. They say that learning more about people who are resistant to infection may reveal genetic clues that can help other people avoid getting sick and treat those who become infected. A new worldwide study is currently screening 5,000 people who appear to be insusceptible to coronavirus.
  8. irrigation
    the act of supplying dry land with water by artificial means
    A three-year drought in Southern California has resulted in historic limits on water use. Millions of homes have been ordered to cut irrigation of lawns and gardens by 35 percent before June 1. If water levels don't improve by September, officials say they may ban all outdoor water use. In the region's urban areas, about 80 percent of water is used to keep lawns lush and green. The Latin root of irrigation is irrigare, which means "flood."
  9. mimic
    imitate, especially for satirical effect
    A team of ecologists has discovered the first known example of a mammal that mimics an insect, imitating its sound to deter predators. In a study published on May 9 in Current Biology, the scientists describe a bat species that copies the buzzing noise of a hornet to discourage owls that prey on them. Mimic comes from the Greek mimos, which means "imitator."
  10. misconception
    an incorrect assumption
    Although electric vehicles are statistically safer than hybrid and gas-powered cars, with fewer fires and better protection in crashes, there is a common misconception that they are dangerous. High-profile stories of batteries in Teslas and Bolts igniting have led to the mistaken belief that such incidents are common. Experts fear this fallacy will slow sales of electric cars and delay the transition away from gasoline that will help moderate global warming.
  11. museum
    a building for collecting and displaying valuable objects
    The Bob Dylan Center, a museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma dedicated to the 80-year-old musician, officially opened to the public on May 10. The Center is located in a former paper warehouse and holds more than 100,000 items from Dylan's archives, including letters, photographs, notebooks, and the tambourine that inspired the song Mr. Tambourine Man. Museum is derived from the Greek mouseion, meaning "temple or shrine to the Muses."
  12. prestigious
    having an excellent reputation; respected
    The winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in arts-related categories were announced at Columbia University on May 9. Many of the winning written works, all of which were published in 2021, address themes of race and class. The influential award was given to nonfiction books about the Jim Crow South and current-day homelessness, and poetry focused on gender and poverty. Prestigious was originally derogatory, meaning "deceptive," from a root that meant "juggler's tricks."
  13. relic
    an antiquity that has survived from the distant past
    A statue purchased from a Texas Goodwill store in 2018 has gone on display this week at the San Antonio Museum of Art. What initially appeared to be an ordinary stone carving of a man's head, purchased for $34.99, turned out to be a rare Roman relic that dates from the late first century BCE. The bust may have been removed from a Bavarian castle by a U.S. soldier during the second World War. Relic comes from the Latin relinquere, "to leave behind."
  14. repurpose
    adapt for a new use or format
    In a new study, scientists aiming to slow the spread of cancer cells repurposed several drugs that are normally used to treat other conditions. Their lab results show that in several cases, adapting unrelated medication to treat cancer shows real promise. Drugs used for depression, heart disease, and parasites all reversed changes in the size of cancer nuclei, slowing their growth. Researchers say they're encouraged by the possibility of repurposing medicines in cancer treatment.
  15. resignation
    the act of giving up, as a claim or office or possession
    In response to growing unrest in the capital city of Colombo, the prime minister of Sri Lanka announced his resignation this week. Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down from his position on May 9 after protests turned violent, a move he hoped would calm tensions in the country. However, protesters continue to demand that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign as well. Resignation comes from the Latin resignare, "to cancel or give up."
  16. science fiction
    genre involving the imagined impact of technology on society
    Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa will play the role of the 14th Doctor on the long-running science fiction series Dr. Who. Gatwa, who will be the first Black Doctor, replaces Jodie Whittaker, the first woman in the role. The show has run for 39 seasons over six decades; it tells the story of an alien who travels through time and space in an old-fashioned British phone booth known as a Tardis.
  17. species
    taxonomic group whose members can interbreed
    An exhaustive survey covering 30 years of biodiversity research left scientists with one main conclusion this week: humans must work harder to protect other species from climate change. Their recommendations point to the urgency of acting boldly to ensure the survival of rare plants and animals, using extreme strategies like helping species migrate to more hospitable climates. The Latin species means "a particular sort," from a root meaning "to observe."
  18. tariff
    a government tax on imports or exports
    The U.S. will lift tariffs on Ukrainian steel for one year, the Biden administration announced. The move to temporarily end the import tax reverses a 2018 measure enacted by the Trump administration. The 25 percent tariff on steel, imposed on several countries including Ukraine, was intended to help American manufacturers. Ukraine's economy depends heavily on manufacturing and exporting steel. The Arabic root of tariff means "list of fees to be paid."
  19. terrier
    any of several breeds of small, short-bodied dog
    A Jack Russell terrier named Patron was awarded a hero's medal on May 8 by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The small dog was honored for his work detecting bombs and landmines that had been scattered by retreating Russian troops in northern regions of the country. Patron sniffs out the explosives and assists educators who teach children about their danger. The Old French chien terrier literally meant "earth dog."
  20. theater
    the art of writing and producing plays
    Nominations for the 2022 Tony Awards, the highest honor in American theater, were announced this week. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Strange Loop was nominated for 11 awards, including best musical. A total of 29 Broadway shows were nominated for awards that will be announced at a live ceremony on June 12. Theater is from theasthai, "to behold" in Greek.
Created on May 9, 2022 (updated May 12, 2022)

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