WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for July 16–July 22, 2022

July 18, 2022
Stories about the brains of woodpeckers, a celebrity wedding, and baby sharks all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
competition
After a dog named Bonnie escaped through an open gate in her yard in West Sussex, England, her family searched frantically for the beloved beagle mix. They were relieved and surprised when Bonnie was returned to their door at the end of the day, wearing a dog show medal. John Surrey had found the runaway pup while on his way to the competition with his own dogs, so he entered her in the "best rescue dog" category. Bonnie won third place and was happily reunited with her family.
concussion
A team of biologists is challenging the prevailing belief about why woodpeckers don't get concussions despite repeatedly slamming their heads into trees as they peck for food. Scientists once thought that areas around the birds' brains acted like shock absorbers, cushioning the brain. Instead, an analysis of slow-motion footage of woodpeckers at work showed that the way they move avoids any shock to their heads at all. Concussion's Latin root means "shake violently."
contempt
Steve Bannon, who served as a high-ranking official in the Trump White House, went on trial this week for contempt of court. Bannon was indicted in November for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He faces two charges for failing to provide documents and not appearing for a deposition. The Latin source of contempt is contemptus, "scorn or despise."
cooperation
Despite discord between the U.S. and Russian governments, the countries' space programs have continued a tradition of cooperation. NASA and Russia's Roscosmos made a joint statement detailing plans to give astronauts from Russia and the U.S. seats on each other's space missions. The astronauts themselves have continued their close collaborative relationship, even as politics between the nations have grown strained. Cooperation is from a root meaning "work together."
decline
Drivers have felt some relief over the past few weeks, as gas prices declined across the country. The cost of gasoline at the pump has decreased every day for the last month, with average prices falling below $4.50 on July 19th, down more than ten percent from their peak last month. Several factors threaten to push the cost of gas back up, including hurricane season, the war in Ukraine, and increases in driving. The Latin source of decline means "to lower" or "to bend."
dominate
Halfway through the Major League Baseball season, the New York Yankees dominate their competition. The team has 64 wins and 28 losses, its best record ever at this point in the season. Last week the Yankees soundly beat the Red Sox 13-2. Their dominance on the baseball diamond has the team feeling cautiously confident; they haven't won a World Series since 2009. Dominate is from a Latin word meaning "lord" and its root, which means "house."
ecologist
Ecologists say the early months of the pandemic provided a rare chance to see what happens in nature when humans leave it alone. According to scientists who study animals and plants, lockdowns made it possible to understand how people affect the natural environment. Conservation experts note that while some species thrive without humans, others have a much harder time. It's a reminder that while people are the largest threat to animals and other wildlife, we are also protectors of nature.
juvenile
Several recent shark attacks off of Long Island, New York were likely the result of immature sand tiger sharks mistaking people's feet for fish, according to scientists. Experts say that adult sand tiger sharks look menacing, but they're docile and harmless to humans. Bites are usually caused by juvenile sharks chasing fish. The youthful sharks are less likely to cause serious injuries, due to their smaller size, but they're more likely to bite accidentally because of their inexperience.
loot
The descendants of Native Americans killed during the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre are fighting to have objects that were looted from the site returned to them. After the U.S. Army killed about 250 Lakota people in South Dakota, hundreds of their possessions were stolen. The small Massachusetts museum that holds the ransacked artifacts has begun the process of giving them back to their inheritors. Loot has a Sanskrit root meaning "stolen property."
meteorologist
A TV meteorologist in Texas was alerting viewers about possible power outages caused by ongoing record-breaking heat when the television station went dark. Travis Herzog, who does weather reports for KTRK in Houston, was saying that excessive heat means "a big draw on electric demand," when the power abruptly went out. The Greek root of meteorologist is meteōrologia, "discussion of high things."
nuptials
Hollywood stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got married in Las Vegas on July 16. The couple's romance began in the early 2000s, but they have broken up and gotten back together several times since then. Affleck and Lopez celebrated their nuptials at midnight in A Little White Wedding Chapel with a small wedding party. Nuptials is derived from the Latin nuptiae, "a wedding."
sanction
European Union officials are discussing additional sanctions against Russia, part of the group's response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Six rounds of penalties have already been imposed by the EU. Among the new sanctions being proposed are a ban on imports of Russian gold. The Latin source of sanction, sancire, means "to decree or make sacred," and it's also the root of saint.
subpoena
After the January 6 committee subpoenaed the U.S. Secret Service for erased text messages, that agency responded that it was unable to turn over any new texts. Despite being instructed to save messages to an agency drive before deleting them, Secret Service agents apparently purged their texts in mid-January. The Latin subpoena, "respond or face penalty of punishment," is from sub-, "under" and poena, "penalty."
survive
A Macedonian man survived for 18 hours by clinging to a partially-deflated soccer ball after he was swept out to sea on a strong riptide. The man, identified by the name Ivan, was on a beach vacation in Greece when he was pulled into the Aegean Sea and stranded there. Two Greek boys had lost their rainbow-colored ball a week earlier; Ivan grabbed it as it drifted by, and it helped him endure exhaustion in the waves and stay afloat until he was finally rescued 15 miles offshore.
sweltering
July 19 was Britain's hottest day in recorded history, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas. The sweltering heat ravaged a country where almost no homes have air conditioners. Fears of buckling train tracks halted rail service, schools shut down, tar on airport runways began to melt, and the British Museum closed because of the heat. Sweltering is from swelten, "be faint with heat," and a root meaning "to perish."
systemic
An investigation into the deadly school shooting on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, found that there were systemic failures in the police response. The local police chief had borne the brunt of criticism for his inept handling of the crisis, but the report found fault with the 400 federal and state officers who responded. Widespread miscommunication and a "lack of urgency" affected every part of the response and led to responders waiting over an hour before taking action at the scene.
treason
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy removed two high-ranking officials from their jobs on July 17, claiming they didn't attempt to rid their departments of traitors. Ukraine has begun to investigate its own government over suspected incidents of treason. Russia is known for installing spies within its enemies' inner circles to gain intelligence, and Zelenskyy is determined to root out any Russian collaborators. The Latin root of treason is trader, "hand over."
ultraviolet
The awkward lumpfish, found at the very bottom of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, seems to come in several muted hues. By shining an ultraviolet light on the fish, however, scientists have discovered their true color: a glowing fluorescent green. Biologists suspect that they use their luminescent shade to tell each other apart and communicate, with special filters in their corneas that can see biofluorescence. Ultraviolet means "beyond the violet end of the spectrum."
workforce
The Senate is nearing a deal on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill updates rules about who can work for food growers, allowing farmers to hire temporary workers from other countries year-round, rather than just seasonally. The act would change the way farms are permitted to hire laborers and give dedicated farmhands a path to U.S. citizenship. Proponents say that removing outdated workforce regulations will also lower the costs of dairy, meat, and vegetables.

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