WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for January 22–January 28, 2022

January 24, 2022
Stories about ice pancakes, Mars earthquakes, and wild Welsh ponies all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
artifact
Archeologists in St. Mary's County, Maryland, weren't surprised when they discovered a small cross-shaped object; the county's Catholic history goes back to its 17th-century English settlers. What astonished them was learning that the artifact was an extremely rare 370-year-old Spanish relic. The tiny cross, made of a copper alloy, has two cross bars rather than one, a symbol the scientists traced to Caravaca, Spain. The Latin root of artifact means "thing made by skill."
backlog
Income tax season officially began on January 24, when the IRS started accepting this year's tax returns. As the forms begin to stream in, the agency is scrambling to work through its backlog of returns from the previous year. In fact, the IRS has accumulated millions of forms that must be processed before the current returns can be tackled. The IRS has faced budget cuts despite an increase in tax filings and the added tasks of distributing Covid assistance and child tax credit payments.
choke
Scientists who study lunge-feeding whales like humpbacks have found an answer to a long-standing question: why don't the whales choke on all that water? The whales take in enough water to fill their whole bodies as they feed on krill and fish. Researchers recently discovered an anatomical structure called an "oral plug" that keeps water out of their respiratory and digestive tracts until they've expelled it and are ready to swallow their prey.
communicate
A study published in Current Biology on January 24 reveals new details about how hippopotamuses communicate. Scientists observing seven hippo pods at a reserve in Mozambique found that they exchange information through grunts, squeals, bellows, and a distinctive "wheeze-honk" used to announce their presence. By recording calls and playing them back, the researchers were able to study the hippos' varying responses to known and unknown animals.
coup
On January 24, members of Burkina Faso's military overthrew the civilian government, ousting the elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. A group of soldiers announced the coup on state television during an uprising that began over the weekend. The military seized power after months of protests demanding Kaboré's resignation. Coup is short for coup d'etat, "strike of the state."
deceptive
Attorneys general from four states sued Google on January 24, accusing the company of using deceptive methods to track users without their knowledge. Their lawsuit alleges that Google deliberately misled users, giving them the impression that location tracking was turned off while continuing to collect their location data. Deceptive comes from the Latin decipere, "ensnare or cheat."
defamation
After former Alaska governor Sarah Palin tested positive for Covid-19, her defamation trial against The New York Times was delayed until February 3. She accused the newspaper of libel after a 2017 editorial linked one of her political ads to the 2011 shooting that wounded Congress member Gabby Giffords. Palin says the claim was false and injured her reputation. The Latin source of defamation means "make a scandal of."
deploy
The Pentagon is placing more than 8,000 troops on alert as the Biden administration considers whether it will deploy them to Eastern Europe. The move is in response to Russia's apparent plans to invade Ukraine. If the U.S. sends soldiers to the region, they will join a NATO response force, with a goal of deterring Russia and reassuring allies. The military use of deploy originally meant "expand a unit that had been in columns," from the French déployer, "unroll."
destination
After traveling nearly a million miles, the James Webb Space Telescope reached its destination on January 24. The end of the telescope's journey, a month after its December 25 launch, came when it arrived at its final location in a gravitationally stable spot beyond Earth's moon. "We're one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe," a NASA administrator said. Destination is derived from the Latin destinationem, "purpose."
equine
Welsh mountain ponies have roamed free across the country's hills for centuries, but their survival is now under threat. The small equine animals are considered only partly wild since farmers help manage the herds' health and safety. For generations, the ponies were used in coal mines and on farms. As these traditional jobs disappear, a new initiative will use the horse-like animals to carry packs for hikers across the mountains. The root of equine means "horse."
erosion
A new nonprofit recycling company in New Orleans will collect glass, which the city's recycling program no longer accepts, and transform it into a fine sand that can be used to fight coastal erosion. The grassroots organization, Glass Half Full, pulverizes the recycled glass and uses it to rebuild barrier islands and sandbars being worn away by flooding and the rising sea level. It's the world's largest such program and may be a model for other areas affected by erosion.
formation
Following a bitterly cold week, mysterious ice formations appeared on the surface of Lake Michigan over the weekend. The masses of frozen lake water took the shape of a series of circles, a phenomenon known as "ice pancakes." The circular patterns could be seen along Chicago's shoreline after temperatures dipped below freezing for several days in a row. Formation comes directly from the Latin formationem, "a shaping."
heroic
In Senegal, a man named Modou Fall has taken on the heroic mission of saving his home country from the plastic waste that threatens its environment. Dressed as a plastic-covered superhero, Fall is a familiar sight on the streets of Dakar, lobbying against the use of plastic bags and cleaning up discarded bottles. Known as "Plastic Man," he has dedicated himself to the cause, spending his life savings to found an environmental group that plants trees and organizes recycling drives.
inflation
While U.S. workers have seen significant pay increases over the past year, the recent growth of inflation means that their money isn't going as far. The rising cost of fuel, food, and rent has resulted in many people continuing to struggle financially, despite their higher hourly wages. In 2021, inflation rose to its highest level in about 40 years, a combined result of the pandemic, supply chain issues, and increased consumer demand for goods.
laser
For six years, dozens of crows have made themselves at home on the rooftops of Sunnyvale, California, cawing loudly. In recent months, their numbers have increased to about 1,000, and residents have lost patience with the noisy birds. After several attempts to scare them away, Sunnyvale authorities have a new plan: harassing them with laser pointers. Experts warn that while the crows may initially be intimidated by the intensely focused beams of light, they are likely to return.
lottery
After a meal last week at Red Bowl Asian Bistro in Charlotte, North Carolina, Gabriel Fierro cracked open the luckiest fortune cookie of his life. He used the numbers printed on his fortune to play the Mega Millions lottery and won $4 million — the largest win in the history of the state's online random prize drawing. Lottery comes from the Italian lotteria, "awarding of prizes by chance from drawn lots," and its root, lotto, "lot, portion, or share."
recruit
NASA announced it will recruit cloud enthusiasts to help the agency as it documents the planet's changing climate. These citizen scientists are being drafted to observe cloud cover at specific times and report back to NASA. By mobilizing the public to participate, climatologists say they'll gain a broader understanding of atmospheric conditions and the effects clouds have on climate. They hope to gather at least 20,000 observations before February 15.
scam
When a Long Island woman got a call from someone claiming to be her grandson, asking for $8,000 to be bailed out of jail, she knew it was a scam. The 73-year-old grandmother was immediately aware of the deception since her grandsons are young children. Rather than revealing that to the scammer, she set up a sting operation with the police. When the scammer arrived at her door to collect the cash, he was arrested.
seismic
After studying thousands of images of Mars, paying particular attention to patterns in the red dust on its surface, a group of astronomers has found new evidence of seismic activity. They say herringbone-shaped tracks caused by bouncing boulders suggest recent earthquakes, contradicting earlier theories that any tremors on Mars happened long ago. Seismic is rooted in the Greek seismos, "a shaking."

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