WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for September 3–September 9, 2022

September 5, 2022
Stories about underwater tourism, electric rickshaws, and a hydrogen-powered train all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
abandoned
The cost of living has shot up in Britain, and an increase in abandoned animals has accompanied rising expenses. At a time of historically high inflation, many pet owners can no longer afford to care for their dogs and cats. Animal welfare groups say the growing number of animals left uncared for and surrendered to shelters threatens to become a crisis. Originally meaning "relinquish control," abandon came to mean "desert someone or something in need" by the 15th century.
constitution
On September 4, Chileans voted to defeat a new constitution that would have been historically progressive and was supported by President Gabriel Boric. The proposed rewriting of the country's laws and principles contained significant environmental regulation, expanded social welfare programs, and inclusion of Indigenous representatives in government. More than 60 percent of voters rejected the new document. The Latin root of constitution means "form something new."
contract
Since 2020, more than 4,000 of Google's contract employees have voted to unionize. The company is known for providing free lunch to its workers; the independent contractors who work in cafeterias making those lunches have joined unions in huge numbers, securing higher pay and better conditions. These laborers have written employment agreements with Google but aren't considered full employees — and they don't qualify for the free food or other perks.
coral
A team of marine biologists made a major breakthrough in their quest to save a species of coral that's threatened by climate change. Working at the Florida Aquarium, the scientists reproduced a sample of elkhorn coral, forming hundreds of babies. This marine creature, which looks like a spiny rock but is actually an animal, forms the structure of reefs. It's the first time the species has been spawned in a lab, and it may be the reason it doesn't become extinct.
desert
Bridgestone, a company that produces tires for cars and trucks, has developed a new way to grow natural rubber. Instead of using the tropical rubber plant, which requires intensive irrigation, the company's research and development team is harvesting material from a desert plant called guayule. Native to extremely dry environments and needing no extra water to grow, this plant produces rubber that is even sturdier than the traditional kind.
diesel
A regional German railroad will become the first to power its trains using only hydrogen, replacing traditional diesel engines. Although many trains are now entirely electric, some local lines still use the internal combustion engines, which are fueled by thick, dense oil. Diesel produces harmful emissions and pollutes the air inside the cars, while hydrogen cells' only waste product is water. Rudolph Diesel was the German engineer who invented this kind of engine in 1894.
distortion
Anyone who has had a strange, warped perception of time since the pandemic started is not alone. A new study shows that most Americans went through a similar distortion of time, particularly early in the Covid crisis. More than 65 percent of participants said they experienced the passing of time in an altered, twisted way, as well as a feeling that time was either moving faster than normal or slowing down. The Latin roots of distortion mean "completely" and "to twist."
dynamite
Some ranchers in Nevada who have clashed with beavers over control of water sources have found a peaceful solution. For years, they've used dynamite to blow up beaver dams in an attempt to keep their land from drying out in some spots and flooding in others. A new system has ranchers working with the animals, rather than fighting them with explosives; cattle can drink from beaver pools, and riverbank overflow creates useful wetlands. The Greek root of dynamite means "power."
edit
Ever since Twitter launched in 2006, users have complained about being unable to go back and fix typos and mistakes by changing the text in a tweet after it's sent. Now the company is finally introducing an edit button that will allow people to alter a published tweet, with a note clarifying that it's been modified. The option will be rolled out slowly over the next few months. When edit was coined, it meant "publish," only later coming to mean "make revisions."
embryo
Scientists say an exciting new development may lead to improvements in infertility treatments. After attempting for years to create mouse embryos in a lab without using sperm or eggs, researchers finally achieved the goal. Using stem cells, they were able to initiate the earliest stage of fetal mouse development. Observing the process in a lab has allowed scientists to better understand why some early pregnancies fail. Embryo is from a Greek word meaning "that which grows."
famine
The United Nations warned on September 5 that Somalia faces a serious threat of famine. Ongoing violent conflict in the country, high food prices, and a continuing drought in the region have contributed to a situation in which about half the population is going hungry every day. Hundreds of Somali children have died, and the estimated number of malnourished people reaches into the hundreds of thousands. The Latin source of famine is fames, or "hunger."
glean
A network of people in Cornwall, Britain is working together to glean unpicked produce, part of a larger effort to address food poverty and farm waste. Over the past six months, they have salvaged about 100 tons of food that would have been discarded, donating the vegetables to food pantries around the region. Twenty-five such groups have started in England in the last five years, and they hope to expand. Glean derives from a Latin root meaning "make a collection."
refugee
Ireland has admitted more than 50,000 Ukrainians who fled the ongoing war in their country; it's the largest number of refugees the country has ever accepted. Many of the families seeking sanctuary have settled in small Irish towns and villages, where housing and support is plentiful, though paid work is hard to find. The Latin root of refugee is refugium, which means "a taking refuge."
rickshaw
Affordable mopeds and rickshaws are leading India's push to electrify its vehicles. In a country where few can afford the luxury electric cars regularly sold in the U.S., emissions-free vehicles that cost less than a thousand dollars are growing in popularity. Three-wheeled taxis powered by batteries are far cheaper to drive than rickshaws requiring gas, and more drivers are buying them. Rickshaw derives from Japanese words meaning "man" and "carriage."
sobriety
In response to Russia's control of energy across Europe, France has begun its most serious conservation effort in decades. President Emmanuel Macron told citizens to prepare for an era of "energy sobriety." The period of moderation will include requests to turn down thermostats in the winter, carpool, and reduce electricity consumption when possible. Though he asked them to use resources sparingly, Macron also reassured residents that the government would help keep energy bills low.
succeed
Liz Truss will succeed Boris Johnson as the U.K.'s Prime Minister. After defeating Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members, Truss was formally appointed by Queen Elizabeth II in a September 6 ceremony at Balmoral in Scotland. Truss assumes the leadership of her party and the country following Johnson's turbulent tenure and resignation. She is stepping into the role at a time when England faces many crises, including a looming recession and labor unrest.
titanic
Thanks to a brand new deep-sea luxury travel industry, tourists paid $250,000 this summer to view the wreckage of the sunken Titanic. The guests rode in a submersible more than two miles deep, where the giant ship's remains have been since it sank in 1912. The once-luxurious ocean liner, named for its large size and stability, is split into two pieces and lodged upright on the ocean floor off the coast of Newfoundland. Its name comes from the Greek titan, a mythological giant.
typhoon
South Korea avoided extensive, widespread destruction from Typhoon Hinnamnor, which made landfall on September 6. Still, at least three people died and tens of thousands were left without power after the storm's intense, rotating winds hit the southern coast. The cyclone moved fast, dumping 40 inches of rain on several cities in the region. The Greek typhon, "whirlwind," is the root of typhoon.

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