WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for September 24–September 30, 2022

September 26, 2022
Stories about Elton John, a rocket-asteroid collision, and shy raccoons all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
adolescent
Recent studies support a theory that people are most fond of the music that was important to them in their adolescent years. Researchers say the participants' favorite songs were usually tied to specific memories from their teenage years. In one study, out of 80 guests on a British radio show, Desert Island Discs, over half of the musical choices were connected to events from when they were between 10 and 20 years old. The root of adolescent means "grow or ripen."
atoll
The eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga earlier this month has formed a new atoll in the South Pacific. As of September 19, the ring-shaped island had grown from one acre to nearly nine, standing about 50 feet above sea level in the Home Reef seamount. Atoll is derived from the Malayalam atolu, "reef," and its root, which means "closing or uniting."
bulldozer
After controversial imagery was used in last month's India Day parade in Edison, New Jersey, the event's organizers issued an apology. Many observers were dismayed to see a bulldozer among the floats and marchers. The large, wide-bladed truck, which has become a symbol of violent oppression of Muslims in India, was decorated with a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Before it meant "tractor," a bulldozer meant "someone who intimidates with violent threats."
canoe
A piece of wood discovered in Wisconsin's Lake Mendota has been identified as a 3,000-year-old dugout canoe. It's the second ancient boat located by maritime archaeologist Tamara Thomsen in the lake; the first was estimated to be 1,200 years old. The recent find, by far the oldest canoe found in the Great Lakes, is 14.5 feet long and carved from a piece of white oak. It was probably used for transportation by members of the Ho-Chunk Nation or other Native inhabitants of the region.
citizenship
On September 26, Russia granted citizenship to Edward Snowden, who once worked for the National Security Agency and has been accused of violating the espionage act. Snowden settled in Russia in 2013 after fleeing the U.S. and being denied asylum by dozens of countries. His supporters consider him a whistleblower for sharing top-secret documents about American surveillance with journalists. Being a Russian citizen, Snowden said, would provide "stability" for himself and his family.
collision
A NASA mission was declared a success after the deliberate collision between a spacecraft and an asteroid. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or DART, smashed into the small Dimorphos asteroid on September 26, an impact that was filmed by a nearby satellite. It will take about two months to see whether Dimorphos's trajectory was changed by the crash. Collision has a Latin root that means "a dashing together."
demystify
One of the most secretive organizations in the United States has a new mission: to demystify itself. To mark its 75th anniversary, the CIA launched a new podcast and opened an expanded museum at its Langley, Virginia headquarters. The spy agency won't allow civilians into the collection of codes and ciphers, but it will share many of them online. Exhibits on secret missions and spies will also be selectively shared, as part of its aim to make the CIA a bit less of a mystery.
disclose
The White House announced a new proposal that would require airlines to disclose extra fees up front. Under the proposed rule, all additional costs, for things including changed flights, extra carry-on bags, and requests to sit together, would have to be revealed along with the ticket price. Disclose comes from the Old French desclore, "open," from dis-, "the opposite of," and clore, "to close."
disproportionate
A new EPA office of environmental justice will address the unequal harm climate change causes to poor people and people of color. The agency announced the initiative on September 24, noting that the burden of pollution and global warming is disproportionate, with low-income and minority communities feeling the very worst effects. The new office plans to achieve a greater balance by considering racial and economic equality when it sets environmental rules and regulations.
dissent
Nearly two weeks after Mahsa Amini's death while in Iranian police custody, dissent is growing across the country. Protests began after the 22-year-old Amini was arrested for violating a law requiring women to wear a hijab. Iranian women have burned their head coverings and cut their hair in opposition to Iran's strict morality rules, and thousands have joined demonstrations expressing wide-ranging anger at the government. The Latin roots of dissent mean "think differently."
humanities
After a White House performance, Elton John was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Biden. The award is given to people and groups who have made meaningful work that improves the cultural experiences of Americans. As well as his decades of musical contributions, John has dedicated years to the ongoing fight against AIDS through the work of his charitable foundation. Humanities comes from the Latin phrase literae humaniores, "the more human studies."
kidnap
Weeks after three chimpanzees were kidnapped from an animal sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, their abductors have demanded a six-figure ransom for their return. The young animals, Monga, César, and Hussein, had been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Congo's National Intelligence Agency is investigating the kidnapping, which they say is a "security threat for the country." Kidnap, originally thieves' slang, is from kid and nab, or "snatch."
manufacturer
Factory jobs in the U.S. have rebounded in recent months, in the manufacturing industry's biggest hiring boom since the 1970s. Manufacturers laid off 1.36 million workers early in the pandemic but have added 1.43 million jobs as of August. American businesses that make goods — from pharmaceuticals to specialty foods and craft beer — are producing more to meet demand and hiring people to do that production. The Latin root of manufacturer means "making by hand."
provisional
Provisional election results show that Italy will likely have its first far-right government since World War II. The conditional outcome gives the advantage to Giorgia Meloni's coalition, which has political origins going back to dictator Benito Mussolini. After the final percentages are tallied, Meloni's bloc is nearly certain to have enough of a lead to guarantee control of parliament. Provisional, "providing for present needs," shares a root with provide.
pyramid
New research offers an explanation for how the pyramids were built. In order to construct the towering, triangular monuments, ancient engineers somehow moved 2.3 million blocks of granite and limestone, each weighing about two tons, across miles of desert. This week, scientists reported evidence that a now-defunct branch of the Nile River once stretched through the desert to the pyramid site, which would have allowed the stones to be transported with relative ease.
shy
Preliminary results of a new study show that shy raccoons are significantly better at learning new tasks than their more aggressive comrades. Researchers found that docile, cautious raccoons quickly mastered a test that involved pushing a certain button to get a food reward. The fact that bolder animals were slower to learn suggests that urban wildlife management needs to change its tactics, since the current focus is on aggressive racoons rather than timid ones.
surrender
Weeks after a seal first turned up in a Massachusetts pond and evaded repeated attempts to capture him, he surrendered to authorities this weekend, waddling up to the local police station. The seal, nicknamed "Shoebert" in honor of his appearance in Beverly's Shoe Pond, turned himself in after crossing a parking lot and approaching the station's side door. Wildlife officials transported him to a Connecticut aquarium for a medical exam; he will be returned to the wild.
volatile
The stock market was especially volatile over the past week, amid growing worries about a possible global recession. The market's extreme changeability was illustrated by the S&P 500 dropping more than one percent on September 26, along with Asian and European markets. Most trading days in 2022 have seen similar swings, with values often veering up and down in a single day. Volatile is from a Latin word meaning "swift or fleeting" and its root, volare, "to fly."

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