WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for July 9–July 15, 2022

July 11, 2022
Stories about the world's largest parrot colony, an expensive dinosaur skeleton, and the remains of a 17th-century shipwreck all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
academia
A new analysis of data about people who earn a PhD in economics revealed a larger truth about academia: it's increasingly made up of students and professors from privileged backgrounds. Researchers say that 20 percent of economics PhDs in 1970 had a parent who also had a graduate degree. Today, nearly 70 percent of them do. This disparity is reflected across the scholarly world, which is seen as more and more out of reach for those coming from non-elite backgrounds.
alternative
After McDonald's shuttered its Russian stores in May, prompted by the country's invasion of Ukraine, Russia opened an alternative fast-food chain. The substitute restaurant is called Vkusno i Tochka, or "Tasty and That's It" in English. Its menu is virtually identical to McDonald's. This week the Russian state news agency reported that the chain is facing a French fry shortage caused by a low supply of domestic potatoes, though an agriculture spokesman denied the claim.
assassination
Following the assassination of Japan's former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, his political party won a supermajority in a parliamentary election. The shooting death of the country's longest-serving leader was particularly shocking in a nation where gun violence is rare. Assassinate is from assassin and its Arabic root, hashīshīn, a nickname for a 12th-century sect that was infamous for murdering opposition leaders.
blackout
A Texas regulator warned that the state could face rolling blackouts caused by this week's heatwave. On July 11 and 12, the heat index rose well above 100 degrees, spurring a warning from the agency that Texans should conserve electricity, turning their thermostats up at least one degree. The state's power grid has been pushed past its limits in the past, most recently during a winter storm in 2021, when outages left residents without electricity, heat, and in some cases, water.
chemistry
Kate Biberdorf, a University of Texas professor known as Kate the Chemist, performs live shows and makes TV appearances to spread interest in chemistry and other sciences. Biberdorf uses showy chemical reactions that result in bright colors, smoke, gooey slime, and loud explosions to demonstrate how substances interact — and to recruit future scientists to the field of chemistry. The word shares a root with alchemy, the magical medieval practice of turning metal into gold.
civilian
As Russia's focus shifts in its invasion of Ukraine, civilians continue to bear the brunt of the war. At least ten cities in Donetsk Province were hit with missiles over the past several days, leading to dozens of residents' deaths. One block alone reported 30 deaths this weekend. People living in Bakhmut extinguished several fires on July 10 after Russian troops targeted homes and apartments. Civilian is derived from the Latin civilis, "relating to a citizen."
colony
The world's largest colony of parrots, in the cliffs of a Patagonian mountain, is under threat from the warming climate. The burrowing parrots gather in the sandstone of El Cóndor, forming a community with more than 37,000 nests and creating lifelong bonds with their mates. Deforestation and heat have reduced the birds' food source, forcing them to fly up to three hours to find food for their chicks. Though the parrots aren't considered to be endangered, their population is declining.
crater
A 23-year-old American man was injured on July 9 when he fell into a crater in Italy's Mount Vesuvius while attempting to take a selfie. Philip Carroll and his family members had entered a restricted area and reached the mouth of the volcano when Carroll dropped his mobile phone into the crater. He slipped in while trying to retrieve it, sustaining minor injuries. The Greek root of crater means "large serving bowl for wine."
dinosaur
A large dinosaur fossil will be auctioned off this month at Sotheby's in New York. The Gorgosaurus skeleton has been valued at around $5 million. This ancient reptile, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, lived 76 million years ago during the Mesozoic era. The 22-foot-long fossil was uncovered in 2018 in Montana. Dinosaur is from Greek roots deinos and sauros, meaning "terrible lizard."
espionage
Washington D.C.'s International Spy Museum celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month. The museum holds more than 10,000 artifacts related to espionage, including spy gadgets like hidden cameras, walnuts containing secret notes, a drone disguised as a dragonfly, and much more. Visitors receive secret agent names and spy assignments to complete. The French espion, or "spy," is the source of espionage.
farmer
A new scientific paper suggests that gophers are the first known non-human mammalian farmers. Researchers say that the burrowing pocket gopher, a familiar pest in the southeastern region of the U.S., actually practices a rudimentary sort of agriculture. The way the gophers carve out their long tunnels encourages plant growth and easy access to deep roots. The apparent cultivation of plants for ease of nibbling makes them farmers, according to scientists who study the rodents.
harmonize
Students returning to in-person school music programs are re-learning to play their instruments and to harmonize with other musicians. Music classes were disrupted over the past two years, with online instruction for those who had instruments at home, and solo practice sessions. Young musicians have had to adjust to being together, blending their playing in a tuneful, pleasing way, and collaborating musically. One student said, "If one person messes up, everyone messes up!"
industrial
A new carbon capture project will be the U.K.'s first industrial scale plant to absorb carbon dioxide. Tata Chemicals Europe Carbon Capture Plant is capable of taking in 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and transforming it into baking soda. It's the equivalent of removing 20,000 cars from roads annually, and it is reportedly ten times bigger than largest of all previous such plants. Industrial is from industry and its Latin root, meaning "diligence."
innovation
As global temperatures rise, research is leading to exciting innovations, such as "cool pavement" that reduces heat on roads to make biking and walking more comfortable. Many of these creative solutions focus on the concept of "cool corridors" in urban areas, including ideas like planting trees, adding water fountains for pedestrians, painting streets light colors to reflect heat, and building structures with heat mitigation in mind. The Latin root of innovation means "new."
interest
The Federal Reserve has raised U.S. interest rates in an effort to combat rising inflation, a move that may make housing much less affordable for renters. Economists say the increased charge for borrowing money from banks has resulted in fewer people buying homes, which means more competition for rental properties. Rents across the country have already gone up more than 14 percent since the start of 2022. Before the pandemic, the increase was typically about two percent per year.
pilot
A pilot made a skillful emergency landing this week in North Carolina. When the engine of his small plane failed, Vincent Fraser first decided to land on a river, to avoid hurting anyone. As the aircraft descended, Fraser saw a highway, and he expertly aimed for a clear stretch in the median. He set the plane down in the middle of the road, with drivers passing safely in both directions. No one was injured. The first pilots steered ships; the word's root means "steering oar."
regulate
White House officials said they remain determined to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that limits the power of the Environmental Protection Agency. The administration said it is still able to regulate emissions, though the legal decision makes it a more complicated process. New regulatory tools will include specific restrictions on soot, mercury, and other pollutants, as well as encouraging new environmental laws in states and cities.
timber
A team of archaeologists has discovered timbers in caves off the Oregon coast they believe are from a 17th-century shipwreck. If their theory is correct, the dozen slabs of wood were part of the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a galleon that sailed from Spain and vanished in 1693. The ship inspired the plot of Steven Spielberg's 1985 movie The Goonies. Timbers were used as masts for the sails of galleons, inspiring the nautical pirate slang "Shiver my timbers!"

Create a new Word List