WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: June 8–14, 2019

June 13, 2019
We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, and discussed in the news this week. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.
augment
President Trump is sending one thousand troops to Poland to help secure American and NATO interests there. The move is expected to anger Russia, which effectively controlled Poland for decades during the Cold War. Poland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999.
The additional forces, which are likely to include a squadron of U.S. Reaper drones, would augment about 4,000 U.S. troops who currently rotate in and out of Poland, along with troops from other NATO allies.
- Los Angeles Times (June 12, 2019)
contrived
The House Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failing to give the committee requested information about a controversial question on the 2020 Census. The question deals with citizenship, and lawmakers are looking into whether Republican strategists added this question for political gain.
Federal judges in three lawsuits have concluded that the Trump administration’s rationale for adding the question was contrived.
- The New York Times (June 12, 2019)
extradition
Demonstrations in Hong Kong turned violent this week, with the police using pepper spray on protesters. The issue is an extradition bill which says that accused criminals could be sent to mainland China, which does not have a transparent justice system based on due process. Protestors regard the law as a threat to Hong Kong’s independence and a threat to human rights.
Police descended on the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday, using rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas to quash escalating protests sparked by a highly controversial extradition bill. - Slate (June 12, 2019)
hearken
In professional hockey, the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the final series to become NHL Champion. It’s the first time in the 52-year history of the Blues franchise that the team has won the Stanley Cup. Although hearken does mean "listen," here the phrase hearken back means to bring back memories of another moment in time.
As he sat at the podium with the Conn Smythe Trophy at his side, O’Reilly hearkened back to July 1 when he spoke to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong on the phone after being traded to St. Louis from Buffalo.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 13, 2019)
integrity
As many consumer product companies have attempted to make their packaging more eco-friendly, toothpaste tubes have proved an especially difficult challenge. Scientists at Colgate believe they have cracked the problem by using a blend of different plastics to create a tube that is completely recyclable and still holds up to hundreds of squeezes. Here, integrity means the quality of a structure holding together in one piece.
Colgate’s “eureka moment” came when their packaging engineers recognized that they could use more than one grade of HDPE in their designs. The team then tested a dozen different combinations – using from 6 to 20 layers – to find the recipe that allows people to comfortably squeeze out all the toothpaste, protects the integrity of the product, and meets the demands of high-speed production.
- Good News Network (June 12, 2019)
slog
Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris unveiled a plan to help solve the U.S. immigration crisis. Harris’ plan, which sidesteps the need for congressional approval, includes a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as young children when their parents entered the country illegally.
The focus on administrative moves is an acknowledgement that sweeping legislative initiatives face an uphill slog in the current gridlocked Congress.
- Los Angeles Times (June 12, 2019)
specter
Donald Trump, Jr. appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week to clear up some confusion about his previous testimony. The Committee was reportedly worried that Trump, Jr. had lied to them about a meeting he took with Russian operatives during his father’s campaign for President. Here, a specter is something that haunts you like a ghost from the past.
The specter of perjury implications complicated scheduling Trump Jr.’s testimony, even after the committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), indicated he was not inclined to pursue any charges that Mueller — who had access to the committee’s transcripts — had not.
- San Francisco Chronicle (June 12, 2019)
stymie
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has agreed to an official legal order to testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors, but President Trump has told her and others to ignore such subpoenas. To stymie is to block and frustrate at every turn.
Ms. Hicks will be the first former Trump administration official to appear before the panel, which has been repeatedly stymied in its efforts to investigate the president by White House moves to block documents and testimony
- The Wall Street Journal (June 12, 2019)
thoroughfare
In May, four oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. This week, two more oil tankers were hit in the same stretch of water. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an official statement blaming Iran for the attacks. The Gulf of Oman is essential to the transport of oil from the Persian Gulf to the rest of the world, and it is in this sense that it is a thoroughfare.
Two oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, forcing their crews to abandon ship and setting at least one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil products.
- The New York Times (June 13, 2019)
threshold
The first debates among Democratic candidates for President are scheduled for June 26 and 27. Ten candidates will debate each night, and the line-up is almost set. The top fourteen candidates have already secured their places, but there are still six open slots remaining. In this case, a threshold is the minimum number a candidate had to reach in a voter poll to be considered for the debate stage.
Candidates may qualify for the debate through meeting polling thresholds or by getting 65,000 individual donations.
- Time (June 12, 2019)

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