WORD LISTS

A Quick Current Events Vocab Quiz: "Apt" Words for Ukraine

February 18, 2014
News this week was dominated by protesters in Ukraine staving off police incursion by surrounding themselves with a ring of fire, while a second week of Olympics games were underway in Sochi, Russia, and the Congressional Budget Office released the results of a study of a minimum wage increase.

Follow this week's news coverage from a vocabularian's perspective by learning 10 words from this week's New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post coverage.

Commit to this list on weekly basis! Here are six reasons why.
parry
Parry is a word that comes from fencing, where it describes a circular motion of the hand used to block an opponent's sword thrust. Here parry applies to the movements of protesters and police in the Ukraine, and is essential vocabulary if you want to understand what is happening in Kiev.
In a wild day of parries and thrusts by the protesters and the police, the authorities in Kiev reported 13 people killed, including two police officers, while protesters accused the police of using live ammunition.
--Ukraine Police Storm Square in Deadliest Day of Uprising, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014
phalanx
Again, to follow the action on the streets of Kiev, you'll need to know that a phalanx of police means a group standing shoulder to shoulder in close ranks.
A phalanx of riot police officers, backed by a water cannon, pushed through protesters’ barricades near the Ukraina Hotel and fired tear gas as they advanced toward the center of the square.
--Ukraine Police Storm Square in Deadliest Day of Uprising, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014
acrid
Acrid is a word you'll often see connected to the smell in the air during and after a fire. It's something you register almost as a taste--strong, unpleasant, irritating to the nose.
With visibility sharply reduced to just a few yards by thick clouds of acrid smoke, it was often difficult to determine who was firing what at whom.
--Ukraine Police Storm Square in Deadliest Day of Uprising, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014
blare
A particularly loud car horn might be said to blare, but the term is applied to music blaring out of speakers here. Blare suggests the music's loud to the point where it almost ceases to be music, and becomes just deafening noise. Understanding this vocabulary word gives you a much clearer aural impression of what things are like in Kiev.
Music blared from a stage set up by protesters who, although boxed in all sides, showed little sign of dispersing.
--Ukraine Police Storm Square in Deadliest Day of Uprising, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014
thwart
Thwart means to block, either literally or figuratively. You might thwart a blow by catching your assailant's fist. You might also thwart a crime ring's plan to rob a bank by letting the police know when they are planning to break in.
Earlier in the day, enraged protesters reoccupied City Hall, which they had vacated two days earlier, and the authorities shut the Kiev subway to thwart opposition calls for reinforcements to defend their encampment.
--Ukraine Police Storm Square in Deadliest Day of Uprising, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014
prowess
This is a word to keep handy during this two weeks of Olympics competition. It allows you combine the concepts of Olympian athletes' natural ability and the disciplined approach they've taken to developing this ability, with just a single word.
Still, they will finish pretty close to the top of both medal tables not only because of their own prowess, but because upstarts like Slovenia and Belarus are throwing their weight around.
--Sochi 2014: Olympic Superpowers Lose Ground to Slovenia and Belarus, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2014
inherent
Knowing this word will not only help you understand this story from The Wall Street Journal, it will arm you with a key piece of vocabulary for describing abstract concepts and complex thoughts. Something that is inherent is connected and a part of something else. Slovenian skiers have an "inherent advantage" in skiing because their country is mountainous. There's no separating their country and this feature.
Granted, some upstarts have inherent advantages in winter sports.
--Sochi 2014: Olympic Superpowers Lose Ground to Slovenia and Belarus, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2014
apt
Apt has the power to say a great deal more than its three humble letters would lead you to believe. It's a word to use when something is particularly fitting or telling. Here, when non-native speakers say they're "taking" medals, their expression is more apt than perhaps they even realize.
When Europeans whose native tongue isn't English speak of winning at the Olympics, they say they will "take medals," as in, I think we will take medals in biathlon. It is an apt expression for countries such as Belarus and Slovenia, and especially for the Netherlands, which has never before won more than 11 medals at a Winter Games.
--Sochi 2014: Olympic Superpowers Lose Ground to Slovenia and Belarus, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2014
hover
If hover makes you think of a hovercraft, good. Hover means to move up and down in the air--and here, when it applies to a number, you're meant to think of the tiny up and down movements more than the flying. Use hover to describe anything that is hanging at a particular height, but isn't fixed precisely.
In addition to the 16.5 million people who earn less than $10.10 an hour, as many as 8 million workers whose earnings hover above that level could also benefit, the report said.
--Minimum-wage hike would help alleviate poverty, but could kill jobs, CBO reports, The Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2014
alleviate
Why are Obama and many in Congress advocating a minimum wage hike? To alleviate, or relieve poverty. The word alleviate is essentail to understanding this issue currently up for debate. It's also easy to remember, when you think of the headache and pain remedy Aleve.
Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would also help alleviate poverty, report finds.
--Minimum-wage hike would help alleviate poverty, but could kill jobs, CBO reports, The Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2014

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Sunday February 23rd, 1:39 AM
Comment by: Ben (TX)
That was my first list. I wasn't sure if it was just going to segue into my normal endless quizzing or if there'd be an end to it somewhere. Sure enough, it completed and gave me a final review. Aced it! ^_^

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