WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for October 15–October 21, 2022

October 17, 2022
Stories about a sarcastic fish, a Japanese anime theme park, and a beloved bird all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
activist
European climate activists who seek publicity for the issue of the planet's looming environmental crisis have begun a campaign of gluing their own hands to famous works of art. In London's National Gallery last weekend, two protestors threw a can of tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh's iconic painting Sunflowers, then stuck their hands to the wall beneath it with glue. The incident drew the attention of people around the world.
biography
A British physicist noticed that hundreds of notable scientists were missing from Wikipedia and spent the past five years righting that wrong. Jess Wade has written 1,750 biographies of female and minority scientists whose life stories had been widely unknown. Her entries detail the biographical information and scientific contributions of these innovators. Wade said that only 19 percent of English Wikipedia biographies profile women, a statistic she's determined to correct.
disorder
Researchers successfully transplanted human brain cells into a rat, an achievement they say will lead to advances in understanding brain disorders like epilepsy and schizophrenia. The lab-grown brain tissue formed connections with cells in the rats' brains, offering a way for scientists to study human brain conditions caused by malfunctioning cells. Disorder is from dis-, "not," and order, from a root meaning "regulate," or "a row of threads in a loom."
donate
A new California law requires supermarkets to donate food that is still edible and would otherwise be thrown away. The rule is part of a global effort to combat food waste, which accounts for twice the greenhouse gas emissions of airplanes. Giving extra food to charities and food banks instead of tossing it also helps feed hungry people: experts say food that's thrown away could feed more than a billion people worldwide. The Latin root of donate is donum, "gift."
fencing
University admissions experts say that niche sports like fencing can help students get into competitive colleges. Athletes who practice the elite sword-swishing sport often catch the attention of admissions offices, in part because fencers are less common than soccer players. However, participating in the sport is very expensive; the épées, foils, puncture-resistant uniforms, and training all cost quite a lot. Fencing has a root meaning "defend."
hijab
An Iranian athlete who competed without her hijab at a climbing event in South Korea was forced to return to Iran by authorities. Elnaz Rekabi told reporters she had accidentally neglected to wear the traditional Muslim headcovering, which Iranian law requires for all women in public. She was greeted in Tehran by supporters who saw her foregoing a head scarf as an act of support for ongoing protests against the Iranian government. In Arabic, hijab means "screen or curtain."
homage
A few visitors got a sneak peek at Studio Ghibli's new theme park this week. The Japanese park is a vast, immersive homage to the work and vision of Hayao Miyazaki, the studio's founder and director of beloved animated films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. It officially opens next month, with displays that honor Miyazaki creations like soot sprites, Satsuki and Mei's house, and raccoon dogs, as well as exhibits of specific food featured in his films.
humane
Three months after nearly 4,000 beagles were rescued from a Virginia research facility, most have been placed in new homes. The massive seizure, organized by the Humane Society of the United States, was the largest welfare action in the group's history. Animal rights advocates had fought for the dogs' removal for years, after observing abuse and neglect at the lab. The rescue included 20 litters of puppies and hundreds of adult dogs that had never been outside or handled kindly.
ineligible
This week, the kākāpō was declared ineligible to be New Zealand’s “Bird of the Year” because it had already won too many times. The popular competition has been run by a bird conservation group since 2005. Bird lovers use online campaigns and stunts (like people in penguin costumes) to lobby for their picks. The flightless kākāpō, known as the world's fattest parrot, is considered a fan favorite and has won the contest twice, prompting the decision to disqualify the bird this year.
infrastructure
Russian rocket and drone strikes against Ukraine's energy infrastructure continued this week. On October 18, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that nearly a third of his country's power stations were destroyed, and that many areas of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, had no running water or power. The underlying systems that keep the country running are under direct Russian attack. Infrastructure derives from Latin roots meaning "beneath" and "building."
nimble
Parkour athletes are turning to activism in Paris, fighting light pollution by using their nimble moves to turn off shop lights at night. The activists move fast and lithely, running up walls like agile superheroes to turn off switches. A two-year-old operation known as "Lights Out" has been growing in recent weeks, along with new energy saving measures across Europe. The Old English næmel, "quick to grasp," and its root meaning "to take," are the source of nimble.
orbit
NASA stated that last month's mission to smash an asteroid into a new orbit was a success. The DART spacecraft made contact in September with Dimorphos, a 500-foot-wide space rock, but it took weeks for scientists to calculate whether its elliptical path around a larger asteroid had changed. Their results show that Dimorphos' orbit is now 32 minutes shorter than it was before the impact. The test was part of a larger mission: to deflect future asteroids seen as threats to Earth.
penalty
On October 17, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended a more severe punishment for Steve Bannon than the minimum allowed. Bannon was found guilty of defying a subpoena by the committee investigating the 2021 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. By law, his penalty will be at least one month in jail; the Justice Department is requesting a sentence of six months and a fine of $200,000. Penalty is related to penal and its Greek root, which means "punishment."
prospect
EIghteen-year-old Victor Wembanyama is the most likely prospect for next year’s top NBA draft pick. The seven-foot, three-inch French basketball player has caught the attention of team scouts and coaches, with many comparing him to former star players including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The draft won't take place until mid-summer, but fans and experts are confidently predicting that Wembanyama is the most likely potential rookie to fill the coveted number-one spot.
relationship
A new study found that chimpanzees and gorillas in a Congolese wildlife park developed lasting social relationships with each other. Scientists observed interactions between the two species in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo over a period of more than 20 years. In that time, they saw the formation of meaningful social ties and long-term connections between individual chimps and gorillas, with interactions including play, co-feeding, and foraging together.
reunion
On October 15, members of the South Korean band BTS rejoined each other to hold their first concert since the band's breakup in June. It was the first — and possibly only — reunion for the group after its members decided to focus on solo musical careers. The Latin unionem, "unity or oneness," and the prefix re-, "again," are at the heart of reunion, "a coming together again."
sarcastic
Biologists have learned that the sarcastic fringemouth uses its unusually wide mouth to compete with others of its species for resources. The unusual-looking fish does this by flinging open the edges of its mouth like huge tent flaps. It's named for its habit of lashing out violently at other fish. The root of sarcastic is the Greek sarkazein, "to sneer or speak bitterly," and also literally "to tear off flesh."
statistics
Chinese officials announced on October 17 that the country will no longer release economic statistics, including details of its gross domestic product. The move to withhold data was described as a "delay," although no date was given for resuming regular briefings on the economy. Finance experts see the announcement by China’s National Bureau of Statistics as a sign the country's economic numbers may be worse than expected.

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