This Week in Words: Current Events Vocabulary for January 28–February 3, 2023

January 30, 2023
Stories about candlepin bowling, a terrifying turkey, and an unusual Super Bowl all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
A small asteroid came within 2,200 miles of the earth, less than a week after it was discovered by astronomers. The space rock, named 2023 BU, measures about 30 feet across. It could be most clearly viewed from the southern part of Chile as it passed our planet in one of the closest known approaches of any asteroid. The word asteroid has a Greek root: aster, or "star."
Circumstances that led to a used car boom have changed, resulting in a drop in both sales and prices. The pandemic, along with a shortage of semiconductors, decreased production of new automobiles, causing more people to buy from used dealers. This burst of demand meant companies could charge much higher prices, and vehicles flew off used car lots. Now that Covid-19 is less deadly, there are more new cars available, and fears of a recession mean fewer people are buying them.
In Ellsworth, Maine, the community is pulling together to save its candlepin bowling tradition. The town's sole alley, D'Amanda's, is one of a dwindling number of facilities that still offer the regional variation on traditional bowling. Candlepin involves rolling a grapefruit-sized ball toward narrow pins that resemble candlesticks. With the help of her neighbors, D'Amanda's single employee tackles constant repairs on aging lanes and pinsetters in order to keep the balls rolling.
On February 1, President Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to discuss raising the debt ceiling. Increasing the amount of money the U.S. can legally borrow is vital in order to avoid economic catastrophe. If the limit isn't raised, the country risks going into default and causing financial chaos around the world. Biden has said he won't negotiate; Republicans want cuts in the federal budget in exchange for raising the limit. Debt has a Latin root meaning "to owe."
A new study reveals just how sharp an ant's sense of smell is and points to the possibility that these tiny insects might one day be used to detect cancer in humans. After observing ants using their antennae to identify odors, researchers successfully trained a group of them to accurately sniff out specific human cancer cells. The Latin detegere, "uncover, expose," is the root of detect.
The heirs of a Jewish man who sold a painting after fleeing Nazi Germany are suing the Guggenheim Museum, claiming he sold it under duress and didn't get its fair value. Karl Adler sold Woman Ironing, by Pablo Picasso, to a Munich gallery in 1938 for just over $1,500 ($35,000 in today's dollars). At the time, Adler was in the process of escaping Nazi persecution. The painting is now owned by the Guggenheim and worth $200 million. Duress's Latin root means "hard."
Unusual activity on the surface of one of Jupiter's largest moons is exciting the interest of astrophysicists. Io, which is considered to be the solar system's most explosive moon, with hundreds of active volcanoes, is currently experiencing even more fiery eruptions. These new bursts are so powerful that they can fling lava a half mile into space. Scientists aren't sure what's causing the recent explosions.
As the first Heat Officer on the continent of Africa, Eugenia Kargbo has a difficult mission: to make the city of Freetown in Sierra Leone greener and more livable despite the rapidly warming climate. As part of this lofty objective, Kargbo aims to add parks, protected trees, fountains, and heat-reflecting roofs. She has already installed public gardens and cooling canopies in outdoor market areas. Barriers to her goal include extreme poverty, hotter temperatures, and urban development.
Thanks to the polar vortex, East Asia had an unusually cold January. Temperatures in China's northern region reached -53°C/-63.4°F last week, the coldest in recorded history. The arctic air and snow that buffeted China, Japan, and Korea all month were caused by low pressure systems moving south from the North Pole. The same phenomenon, called the polar vortex, caused frigid December temperatures in the U.S. The root of polar means "pertaining to the earth's poles."
Ever since a wild turkey first frightened a Minnesota woman in 2021 by dropping violently onto her head from his perch on her roof, the bird has continued to terrorize her. Rachel Gross doesn't leave her home without a broom, golf club, and safety goggles, since she never knows when the turkey might attack, pecking at her feet, tearing her clothes, or poking holes in her car tires. Terrorize is from terror, which derives from a root that means "to tremble."
Independent designer Thom Browne won a trademark infringement lawsuit against Adidas. The sportswear giant claimed that Browne's use of four stripes was a violation of its own signature three stripes. After the jury found in Browne's favor, agreeing that he did not infringe on the Adidas logo, the designer called it a victory for all independent designers. Experts say the decision may eventually empower smaller fashion brands to enforce their own trademarks.
This month's Super Bowl, in which the Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs, is the first in which two brothers on opposing sides will vie against each other. It's also the first time the championship game includes two teams with Black quarterbacks. Super Bowl LVII is scheduled to kick off on February 12. Vie comes from the 16th-century phrase make a vie, or "make a bet," and the Old English envie, "make a challenge."

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