This Week In Words: January 18–24, 2020

Stories from impeachment to this season's flu outbreak to the world's richest man getting his phone hacked all provided words for this week's list of news-related vocabulary.

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. august
    profoundly honored
    It was an unwelcome blast of Trumpian bluster in these august surroundings.
    Guardian (Jan 22, 2020)
    The President's lawyer Jay Sekulow let loose during the impeachment trial, yelling and pounding the lectern. His speech included a number of outright falsehoods, which cause a lot of commentators to wonder if he was a good choice for the job. Augustus means "venerable" and "worthy of respect" in Latin, so in addition to the name of the eighth month august is also a useful adjective. People often pronounce it with the emphasis on the second syllable.
  2. crux
    the most important point
    The crux of the House case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden.
    Washington Post (Jan 22, 2020)
    Simply put, the impeachment trial is about the President pressuring Ukraine to manufacture evidence against Joe Biden, and then covering up this crime. Those are the two articles brought by the house, and now on trial in the Senate: abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Crux is Latin for "cross;" its meaning in English — the central issue or the sticking point — can be seen in the related word crucial.
  3. disaffected
    discontented as toward authority
    “This is a part of the state, just like parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where a number of Democrats, far too many, became disaffected and voted for Trump,” Loebsack said.
    Seattle Times (Jan 22, 2020)
    As the Democratic primary heats up, candidates are spending a lot of time in Iowa, one of the first states to vote. Iowa is a conservative state, but it has lots of farmers who have been hit hard by the President's tariffs. Disaffected is related to affection; someone who used to like you but now won't speak to you is disaffected: no longer affectionate.
  4. encrypt
    convert ordinary language into code
    The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.
    Guardian (Jan 21, 2020)
    Amazon founder and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos had his phone hacked by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Using WhatsApp, the Prince sent him a video file containing malware, which then stole data. The extent and nature of the stolen data is not known, but nine months later the National Enquirer published details about Bezos' personal life. The hacking appears to have been an effort to stop the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, from critical reporting on Saudi Arabia.
  5. pandemic
    existing everywhere
    Fears of a pandemic initially spooked markets, with aviation and luxury goods stocks hit and the yuan falling, but they regained their footing on Wednesday in approval of China’s containment response.
    Reuters (Jan 22, 2020)
    The new strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China has claimed 17 lives, and cases are appearing elsewhere, including one in the U.S. Unlike its response during the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, the Chinese government has made public announcements about its efforts to contain the disease. All flights and local transport in Wuhan are cancelled, and travelers to many airports are being screened for infection. The disease likely originated in one of the city's illegal wild animal markets.
  6. peripatetic
    traveling especially on foot
    For Fruman, his heady turn in Trump’s orbit was the latest reboot for the peripatetic businessman, who moved in the margins of Ukraine’s elite but saw his fortunes plummet amid the country’s political turmoil.
    Washington Post (Jan 21, 2020)
    While indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is talking to anyone who will listen about the criminal schemes he and his cohorts were engaged in, his partner Igor Fruman is staying quiet, under house arrest in Miami. Parnas fired his Trump-affiliated lawyers and hired new counsel. Peripatetikos is a Greek word used to describe Aristotle, who paced back and forth while teaching. Now it refers to anyone who walks or wanders a lot.
  7. rapprochement
    the reestablishing of cordial relations
    The rapprochement was the result of a conversation between President Trump and President Macron on Monday.
    BBC (Jan 21, 2020)
    France was planning to implement digital sales taxes on technology companies, and the U.S. responded by threatening tariffs on wine and cheese. The digital sales tax is a way for companies to be charged based on where a sale or digital activity occurs, rather than the location of the company's physical offices. The issues remain unresolved, but the immediate taxes and tariffs are on hold. Rapprochement, fittingly, is a French word, meaning "a coming together."
  8. tableau
    any dramatic scene
    The tableau that Saturday was inspired by a photograph of Eisenhower addressing men of the 101st Airborne Division before they went to battle in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
    Washington Post (Jan 19, 2020)
    The World War II Memorial will be dedicated on May 8 in Washington D.C. to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory. The central bronze sculpture depicts General Dwight D. Eisenhower and members of the 101st Airborne, based on an encounter shortly before D-Day. Eisenhower went on to become the 34th President of the United States.
  9. tranche
    a portion of something (especially money)
    Tesla’s market value also puts Musk a step closer to earning the first $346 million tranche of options in a record-breaking pay package.
    Reuters (Jan 21, 2020)
    Tesla became the first U.S. carmaker valued at over $100 billion, worth more than Ford and GM combined. If the value holds for six months, founder Elon Musk will earn $346 million in stock options. The company's stock has doubled in three months. Tranche means "slice" in French, and it's used in English to denote portions of a larger amount of money, like slices of cake. It's the same root we get trench from.
  10. unprecedented
    novel; having no earlier occurrence
    "The rates charged by the hotel were completely in line with what anyone else would have been charged for an unprecedented event of this enormous magnitude..." the statement said.
    USA Today (Jan 22, 2020)
    The city of Washington, D.C. is suing the Trump organization for illegally inflating the rates at the Trump International Hotel during the inauguration. The hotel charged the inaugural committee over a million dollars for use of a ballroom and food for four days. As a nonprofit, the inaugural committee is required by law to use its funds for the public good and not for enriching individuals.
Created on January 22, 2020 (updated January 23, 2020)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.