WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for September 10–September 16, 2022

September 12, 2022
Stories about a historic Emmy win, Snoopy in space, and the death of a queen all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
bamboo
Yasmeen Lari, who is considered to be Pakistan's first female architect, has co-founded a nonprofit organization that constructs bamboo huts for flood victims. The 81-year-old has spent her retirement focused on this innovative disaster-relief housing, which is made from the lightweight, woody plant stems. Bamboo grows extremely fast, making it an inexpensive, renewable material. The shelters can be quickly assembled and easily moved, and they can each house up to five people.
data
Columbia University released a statement acknowledging it gave faulty data to a publication that ranks colleges across the country. Columbia had been ranked second in U.S. News & World Report's 2021 rankings based on inaccurate numbers and facts. An investigation found that information submitted by the school, including student-faculty ratios, class size, and percentage of full-time instructors, was incorrect. Columbia is not included in the 2022 publication.
drama
The Korean TV series Squid Game made history twice on September 12, first by becoming the first non-English language show to win a major Emmy when Hwang Dong-hyuk won for directing the drama series. Later in the evening, Lee Jung-jae became the first Asian and native Korean to win in the best actor category. Drama is a Greek word that means "play or spectacle," from drāo, "to perform."
fern
Scientists recently sequenced the genomes of three fern species and discovered that they contain twice as much DNA as humans. Now they're tackling the mystery of why these feathery plants have such large genomes. Botanists say continuing to study the leafy, shade-loving ferns' genetic information will eventually reveal new details about the nature of evolution itself. One theory about the etymology of fern says it derives from a root meaning "feather or wing."
gulf
Climate change is rapidly warming the Gulf of Maine, about three times faster than the global average. The deep sea inlet is famous for its lobsters, which are part of an industry that sustains lobstermen and tourists alike. Warmer conditions threaten the crustaceans, which prefer cold water, but industry adaptations have so far kept lobstering thriving in the coastal area bounded by Nova Scotia and Cape Cod.
hail
Over the past few years, the recorded size of hailstones has increased, as has the damage caused by hail. In 2021, the large chunks of frozen rain harmed an estimated $16.5 billion worth of cars, homes, and crops, setting a record. Scientists say that climate change has affected the number of reported hail events, with some of the ice balls measuring as much as five or six inches across. Hail derives from a root meaning "pebble."
harvest
This month's full moon, which peaked on September 10, was a stunning sight in many parts of the world. The harvest moon, which occurs near the autumnal equinox, appeared full from Friday to Sunday night. As well as marking the gathering of food at the end of the growing season, the harvest moon traditionally provided light for picking the last of the crops late into the night. The Old English hærfest meant "autumn" or "period between August and November."
income
Since 2020, nearly 50 pilot programs have provided needy people with a guaranteed income in several cities around the U.S. The largest such experiment is in Los Angeles, where 3,200 parents who live below the poverty level are receiving $1000 each month for one year. The payments often make it possible for recipients to find new jobs and stable housing; the ultimate goal is to break the cycle of poverty. The root of income means "come in," as in money coming in.
intimidating
A first-class passenger on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles who engaged in abusing and threatening behavior has been sentenced to four months in prison. Federal prosecutors said Kelly Pichardo's intimidating actions toward other passengers and the flight crew constituted disorderly conduct. She allegedly assaulted, threatened, verbally abused, and spit on people before the flight was diverted to Phoenix, where she was removed from the plane.
monarchy
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning ruler in the history of the British monarchy, died last week at the age of 96. At her death, her son became King Charles III. The Queen inherited the royal role from her father, King George VI, when she was just 27 years old. Fifteen prime ministers served during Elizabeth's reign. The Greek root of monarchy is monarkhia, "ruling of one."
passenger
No humans will be on board when NASA's Artemis I rocket launches, but there will be several passengers. Riding along to the moon will be three safety crash test dummies, a plush Snoopy toy, and four Lego astronaut figures. As well as grabbing a ride on the space mission, Snoopy will be acting as a zero gravity indicator; when the stuffed dog toy begins to float, ground control will know zero g has been achieved. Passenger is from the French verb passer, "to go by."
recycle
New research has found that, contrary to a widely-held belief, it is possible to safely recycle the boxes that pizzas come in. A paper company that manufactures pizza boxes commissioned the study to see if grease from the cheesy pies made the cardboard ineligible for processing in recycling facilities. The results showed that even when a box's weight was 20 percent pizza grease, there was no negative effect on the recycling machinery or process.
reprieve
A pause in California's hot, dry weather over the weekend gave firefighters battling wildfires a temporary reprieve. The letup came thanks to cooler temperatures and rain in some locations, including Los Angeles, which gave fire crews a chance to contain some of the blazes. Reprieve was originally a verb, first "take back to prison," and later meaning "suspend a prisoner's execution."
scarcity
Global drought conditions this year have highlighted the growing issue of water scarcity. According to the WHO, more than two billion people have an insufficient supply of safe drinking water, a number that's likely to increase as the planet warms. Some scientists are addressing the shortage by updating an old desalination technology, using sunlight to remove salt from seawater and make it drinkable. The new solar method would be less energy-intensive than current desalination plants.
setback
On September 12, Ukraine launched a new offensive, taking back the country's Kharkiv region and causing a major setback for Russia. Observers are questioning whether the Russian army can keep control of the territory it has seized so far in the war. Ukraine has reclaimed hundreds of square miles, including about 20 towns in a single day. As Russian losses grow, opponents of President Putin have become bolder, openly calling for his resignation.
soil
For the first time ever, plants have sprouted and grown after being planted in lunar soil. Scientists used samples gathered from the surface of the moon during the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 70s. A study published this week detailed the painstaking process. Thale cress seeds, which were sown in tiny amounts of lunar dirt, sprouted quickly but struggled to thrive, with roots that were stunted compared to plants grown in the earth's soil.
tarantula
Astronomers released images from the James Webb Space Telescope showing the sharpest-ever details of the Tarantula Nebula. Its luminescent filaments of space dust form a shape resembling a huge, hairy spider. Though the nebula was discovered in the 1700s, it didn't get its name until the middle of the 20th century, when photos revealed that it resembled an arachnid. Tarantulas were named after Taranto, Italy, where the large spiders are common.
trajectory
Between 1993 and 2019, rates of childhood poverty followed a clear downward trajectory, falling almost 60 percent. During that same period, government spending that benefited poor children doubled. The steady reduction in numbers of kids and families below the poverty line continued into 2020 and 2021, when federal pandemic aid brought the rates even lower. The root of trajectory means "throw across," like the arc of a ball thrown through the air.

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