WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for May 14–May 20, 2022

May 16, 2022
Stories about expensive dinosaur bones, a lunar eclipse, and a generous graduation gift all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
acquisition
On May 16, JetBlue announced its intention to buy Spirit Airlines. The attempted acquisition follows Spirit's decision to merge with Frontier Airlines, after it rejected an initial offer of $33 per share by JetBlue. Now, in a hostile takeover bid, JetBlue has gone directly to Spirit's shareholders, offering $30 per share of the airline's outstanding stock. The board will review both deals and make a decision within a week. The Latin root of acquisition means "accumulate."
allergic
The lone star tick, whose bite can trigger an allergic reaction to red meat, has a rapidly expanding territory thanks to the warming climate. The tick has historically been found in the south but has recently been spotted as far north as Maine. Though the lone star tick doesn't spread Lyme disease, it bears several viruses in addition to causing itchy, red welts to form on the skin when beef, pork, or lamb are eaten. The Greek root of allergic means "strange."
alliance
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on May 18. By asking to become part of the military alliance, the two countries clearly rebuked Russia's invasion of Ukraine. For two hundred years, Sweden has avoided taking sides in any conflict, and becoming part of NATO would be a major shift in its neutrality. Finland shares a border with Russia and previously resisted joining an alliance that might provoke its neighbor.
canonize
Pope Francis canonized an Indian man who lived during the 18th century. Devasahayam, the first non-ordained man from South Asia to be declared a Catholic saint, was born into a Hindu family and converted to Christianity. He dedicated his life to speaking out against the caste system. Today, most Indian Christians are Catholic, and the majority come from lower castes, making Devasahayam's canonization deeply meaningful to them.
cognition
A team of researchers has found that injecting old mice with spinal fluid from younger rodents reverses memory loss. The improvement in cognition was dramatic, allowing the mice with aging brains to quickly remember tasks they'd previously forgotten. Scientists hope that the results will lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other age-related cognitive losses. Cognition derives from a Latin word meaning "recognize."
crochet
A British woman will auction off a blanket that was crocheted by Queen Mary in the 1930s, with the proceeds benefiting Ukrainian children. Eighty-three-year-old Kathleen Pritchard has owned the blanket since she was a baby, when her mother won it in a prize drawing. Hand-knit by the queen on hooked needles, the blanket still has a hand-written note pinned to it, reading Made by Her Majesty, Queen Mary, 1938. In French, crochet means "small hook" or "canine tooth."
debate
A widely-viewed post on the popular blog Humans of New York spurred donations of more than a million dollars to the coach of an underdog debate team. The story relayed by 27-year-old Jonathan Conyers focused on the role K.M. DiColandrea played in his life and highlighted the coach's dedication to his high school club, which provides free training in formal, logical argumentation, and access to debate tournaments for at-risk teens.
debt
The entire 2022 graduating class of Wiley College in Texas received a huge surprise along with their diplomas this month. They learned that an anonymous donor had paid off their student loan debt. The college president announced at graduation that the balances held by more than 100 students would be paid off, so that they could embark on their post-college years owing no money for their education. The Latin root of debt is debitum, "thing owed."
departure
In its first departure from a major international market, McDonald's will sell its Russian locations. The company's CEO said on May 16 that doing business there "is no longer tenable," given the ongoing war with Ukraine. The withdrawal of McDonald's from Russia follows more than 30 years of operating the fast-food restaurants in the country, where it employs over 60,000 people. The Latin departire, "to divide," is the root of departure.
eclipse
On the night of May 15, the shadow of the earth fell across the moon in a total lunar eclipse. About 2.7 billion people had clear enough skies to view the phenomenon, when the moon passes through the darkest part of Earth's shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, the moon doesn't disappear during the lunar version, but becomes lit by the refraction of sunlight through the atmosphere, turning a rusty red color. Eclipse has a Greek root that means "an abandonment."
eliminate
A 109 to 81 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks from the NBA Playoffs on May 15. The blowout ended the team's run in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, led by star player Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks had a strong season, ending as the third seed, but were defeated by a powerful Boston team. The 16th-century meaning of eliminate was "throw out of doors," from a Latin root with the same literal sense.
feral
A growing population of feral chickens is becoming a problem in Hawaii. The wild birds, which aren't native to the region, are a particular concern on the islands of Kauai and Oahu, where residents complain of their noisy clucking and shrieking. Numbering in the thousands today, the chickens are thought to be a cross between jungle fowl and domesticated birds that were released into the wild after 1992's Hurricane Iniki knocked their coops over. The Latin root, ferus, means "wild."
ovation
Queen Elizabeth II attended an equestrian Jubilee event over the weekend, where she seemed to be healthy and in good spirits. The Queen's entrance, which followed her worrying absence from the state opening of Parliament, was greeted by a standing ovation. The monarch has made few public appearances recently, and horse show spectators made their delight evident with their enthusiastic applause. Ovation derives from a Latin root meaning "rejoice."
prolong
According to a new study, medications that are commonly taken to ease back pain — including ibuprofen — might actually prolong discomfort. Experts caution that the research is preliminary and must be followed up with a clinical trial, but the initial results suggest that a focus on treating inflammation can delay healing of injuries. The researchers' theory is that using steroids and anti-inflammatories can turn back pain into a chronic, lasting condition.
renege
On May 17, billionaire Elon Musk said his deal to buy Twitter would not proceed unless the company can prove that fewer than five percent of its users are fake. The comment suggested that Musk may renege on his offer to purchase the social media company for $44 billion. In the 1500s, the word was spelled renegue and defined as "abandon or deny." Today's meaning, "go back on one's promise," is from American English, dating from the 18th century.
risk
A new study of wildfire danger found that one in six Americans lives in a place at high risk of being damaged by fire. States that were once considered invulnerable to wildfires are now under significant threat, including Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Colorado. About 80 million properties are in hazardous areas, according to the research. Only four percent of high- risk counties have applied for wildfire mitigation preparation funded by the Biden administration.
shortage
A baby formula shortage that began in 2021 has worsened over the past few weeks, proving especially dangerous for babies with specialized nutritional needs. The reduced supplies of formula started as part of wider supply chain issues. The situation has been exacerbated by product recalls, most recently by Abbott Nutrition, which closed its plant in February after babies became ill. The FDA will temporarily allow formula made outside the U.S. to be imported.
skeleton
The fossilized bones of a Deinonychus antirrhopus were auctioned off for $12.4 million last week. The skeleton, which came from the type of dinosaur that inspired the velociraptor in the movie Jurassic Park, was the first of its kind to be sold at auction. Skeleton is rooted in the Greek skeleton soma, "dried-up body or mummy."
terrorism
President Biden has approved the Pentagon's request to redeploy U.S. troops to Somalia in an effort to combat a rising threat of terrorism there. The authorization also allows the military to target leaders of Al Shabab, a Somali terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda that carried out a deadly 2020 attack on a U.S. air base in Kenya. Terrorism shares a root with terrible that means "to tremble."
tribute
A month after Naomi Judd's death, her friends and family gathered in Nashville and presented a moving tribute to the beloved country music star. Judd's daughter Wynonna performed River of Time, which was written by her mother. Other family members and fellow musicians spoke about her life's accomplishments and played songs in her honor. Before it was an offering of admiration, a tribute was a payment of money.

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