WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for January 15–January 21, 2022

January 17, 2022
Stories about a rare coin, a possible cure for dog allergies, and a famous hotel all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
acquire
The technology giant Microsoft announced on January 18 that it will acquire Activision Blizzard, a video game company that makes World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, among many others. The price of nearly $70 billion is the largest amount Microsoft has ever spent to purchase another company. Acquire is rooted in the Latin quaerere, "seek to obtain."
ballistic
In its fourth test of the short-range weapons over the past month, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on January 17. The launch, off the country's east coast, was explicitly banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions and is widely viewed as a show of force in response to U.S. sanctions. Ballistic derives from a Greek root meaning "to throw," and it describes a rocket-launched missile with a trajectory that curves downward in an arc like a thrown ball.
canine
Researchers studying canine allergens say their latest findings may eventually help cure people who are allergic to dogs. By zeroing in on the specific parts of allergen molecules that cause the immune system to overreact, scientists are close to isolating tiny epitopes that could be used in a vaccine. Dog lovers who yearn to cuddle puppies without sneezing or breaking out in hives may actually see their canine dreams come true.
censorship
This week, several Eastern European governments have come under fire for adopting new policies that critics argue are subtle methods of censorship. Instead of jailing reporters, the governments of Serbia, Hungary, and Poland are being accused of destroying the credibility of reporters who write unflattering stories about the regimes. The critics argue that the countries are using government-influenced media to silence reporters by labeling them as traitors.
centennial
Just weeks after her death at the age of 99, fans of the beloved actress Betty White celebrated her centennial birthday on January 17. White, who was born 100 years ago in Oak Park, Illinois, was known as an animal advocate, and commemorations included a Betty White tour of the L.A. Zoo and donation campaigns for animal charities. Theaters around the U.S. also screened a documentary about her long life. The Latin root of centennial is centum, or "hundred."
encryption
When athletes participate in next month's Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, they will be required to record their health and travel data using a smartphone app. A new report has raised serious questions about the app's security, revealing that its encryption process is flawed. Tests found that messages weren't correctly converted into code and wouldn't necessarily be protected from outside access. Encryption is rooted in the Greek kryptos, "hidden or secret."
eruption
A week after the violent eruption of an undersea volcano 40 miles off the coast of Tonga, the full extent of damage to the remote island nation remains unclear. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai blast, the largest volcanic explosion in at least 30 years, caused a tsunami that was felt across the globe. Communications were cut off when an underwater cable was severed, and hazardous volcanic ash rained across Tonga's capital city. The Latin root of eruption means "burst forth."
gratis
The White House announced on January 19 that it will distribute 400 million N95 face masks gratis, through health centers and pharmacies. The free masks will begin shipping at the end of this week. The move comes after the CDC updated its guidance to recommend using high-quality respirators instead of cloth masks. It accompanies a new website where Americans can order four rapid Covid tests per household, also at no cost. In Latin, gratis means "as a kindness."
hybrid
A new study has found the earliest known human-bred hybrid animal — a cross between a donkey and an equine known as a Syrian onager. This offspring of two completely different species, called a kunga, was identified using ancient DNA. The deliberately engineered animal was used in Mesopotamia to pull wagons during war and military ceremonies. The Latin root, hybrida, literally means "offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar."
imperil
Conservation biologists say that climate change imperils Patagonian penguins, threatening the species with extinction. Acidification and the shift in ocean temperatures have resulted in less available food for the birds, who have to swim farther to find fish. It's especially dangerous for penguin chicks, who are made even more vulnerable by increasingly frequent heavy rains that weigh them down in the water. The roots of imperil mean "into danger."
initiative
Survivors of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other disasters would be housed in apartments rather than trailers under an initiative by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. The new plan revises FEMA's traditional program of managing trailer parks where survivors live on a short-term basis, instead providing long-term housing in subsidized apartments. The Latin root of initiative means "a beginning."
landmark
Preservationists are reacting angrily to news that a landmark Miami hotel — famous for hosting The Beatles, President John F. Kennedy, and Frank Sinatra, among others — is slated for demolition. The Deauville Beach Resort has been neglected for years, and shuttered since 2017, but it holds deep cultural and historical significance for many people. Members of the Miami Beach Preservation Board fear the city's decision sets a dangerous precedent for other South Florida landmarks.
legislation
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, family members of the civil rights leader led a march in Washington D.C. demanding the passage of voting rights legislation. Hundreds joined King's son and granddaughter as they marched across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Speakers urged lawmakers to pass the John R. Lewis Act, which would remove restrictions they say limit the ability of minority voters to cast their ballots. The bill was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans.
lunar
A new study has found a correlation between lunar cycles and the frequency of shark attacks on humans. Preliminary results show that the attacks were far more common during the full moon phase, despite the fact that nearly all of them occurred during the day. The researchers said that although they used a relatively small amount of data, their work suggests a connection between the moon and shark activity. Lunar is derived from the Latin word luna, "moon."
numismatist
A British man found a small gold coin in a Devon field with the help of his metal detector and posted a photograph on Facebook. Until he was alerted by excited numismatists, who identified it as an extremely rare Henry III gold penny, the man had no idea that the tiny object was valuable. The coin experts determined that this penny is one of only eight known to exist, all of which were minted around 1257. The Greek root of numismatist is nomisma, "current coin."
pollution
After several states recommended limiting consumption of Lake Superior fish, scientists are concerned about local Indigenous tribes that depend on fishing for their survival. Unsafe levels of pollution from PFAS, known as "forever chemicals," have contaminated the smelt and other small fish which lake tribes have relied on for thousands of years. Experts are working to pinpoint sources of the polluting substances and lobbying for state regulations, in the hopes of a cleaner lake.
solar
A Scottish man who briefly met Queen Elizabeth at a reception was amazed when she hired him to install solar panels on a large house on the estate of Balmoral Castle. According to AES Solar's George Goudsmit, the Queen asked about his job and ordered the panels soon after the conversation. He said his company has also discussed adding the panels, which harness energy from the sun, to buildings on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Solar's Latin root means "sun."
tournament
The Australian Open tennis tournament began with defending champion Naomi Osaka dominating in women's singles. On January 19, Osaka had a 6-0, 6-4 win over Madison Brengle, after defeating Camila Osorio 6-3, 6-3 on the opening day of the competition. Tournament comes from the Old French tornoier, "to joust," and the original tournaments featured knights jousting on horseback.
vapor
Astronomers studying a planet beyond our solar system say they've detected water vapor in its atmosphere. TOI-674 b, which is located about 150 light-years away from Earth, is a gas giant the size of Neptune. The presence of moisture particles doesn't mean the exoplanet could support life — it's too close to its sun for that — but it may help scientists better understand how it and other planets formed. The Latin vaporem, "a warm exhalation," is the source of vapor.
visa
On January 16, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic lost a second appeal to have his Australian visa renewed and was deported from the country. Djokovic had hoped to play in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated, a requirement for the tournament. The decision stripped him of the documentation he would have needed to remain in the country. Visa comes from the Latin phrase charta visa, which means "verified paper."

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