This Week In Culture: January 25–31, 2019

Stories about a surprisingly valuable watch, the Grammys, and lizards falling from the sky all contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the sports, entertainment, and culture worlds.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. boon
    something that is desirable, favorable, or beneficial
    Also a boon, he said: the fact that Newman popularized the Daytona Rolex in the 1969 drama “Winning.”
    Washington Post (Jan 28, 2020)
    A guest on the PBS TV show Antiques Roadshow fell on the floor when he learned that the watch he bought for under $350 in 1974 while stationed in Thailand is now worth over $700,000. The Rolex Daytona is similar to one made famous by Paul Newman, and is in nearly mint condition. Boon is Old English, from Norse roots, that originally meant "a favor," that could be asked for or given. Now it refers to good luck, good news, or anything else welcome.
  2. conglomerate
    a group of diverse companies under common ownership
    These shoes are part of the 900 million items–including clothing and sports equipment–the 70-year-old German conglomerate puts out into the world annually.
    Fast Company (Jan 28, 2020)
    Recognizing the serious problem of plastics polluting the ground and oceans, Sportswear giant Adidas has pledged to switch to entirely recycled polyester in its sneakers and clothing by 2024. They're also working to make their products easier to recycle so that they can be made into new things over and over again, and to eventually develop materials that are fully biodegradable.
  3. differentiate
    acquire a distinct character
    We’d offer a more in-depth review, but we couldn’t actually differentiate any of the noises.
    Washington Post (Jan 27, 2020)
    The Grammys took place under the shadow of Kobe Bryant's death, and several performances at the Staples Center — the Lakers' home arena — were dedicated to his memory. Billie Eilish swept the top four awards: album, record, and song of the year, as well as best new artist. Other performers included Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, and H.E.R.
  4. gravitate
    move toward
    It’s about Harley as well as the other Birds coming into their own, recognizing that they are stronger together than they are apart. I gravitated to that feeling.
    Variety (Jan 28, 2020)
    Cathy Yan directed the DC Comics movie Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. The film, one of four big studio superhero films directed by women this year, releases on February 7.
  5. outre
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    After decrying consumerism, swerving into outre avant-rock and selling millions of records anyway, Radiohead learned the hard way that condemning society would just make them even richer.
    Guardian (Jan 25, 2020)
    Radiohead formed 35 years ago, and this list of their 40 best songs is sure to spark debate among their fans. Even if you're not a fan, this list contains some excellent vocabulary words, among them garlanded, tantalizing, vitriol, polemical, and maligned. You could make an entire list of great words just from this article. Outré is a French word meaning "to push beyond boundaries or limits."
  6. sanction
    impose a penalty on; inflict punishment on
    If the charges are admitted, World Athletics will consider sanctions but they will not include any proposal to expel Rusaf.
    BBC (Jan 29, 2020)
    World Athletics, the governing body for international track & field competition, has been asked by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to extend its ban against Russian athletes and prevent them from competing as so-called "neutral" athletes, not belonging to any country's team. The AIU also called for Rusaf, the Russian Athletics Federation, to be expelled from the World Athletics Congress after repeated cases of doping by Russians and a refusal to admit any wrongdoing.
  7. synergistic
    working together for an enhanced effect
    Advance in these arenas is often synergistic, and scientists can “make great leaps into new realms of knowledge by looking upon the universe with the eyes of artists”.
    Nature (Jan 28, 2020)
    On the 100th anniversary of author Isaac Asimov's birth, science fiction fans are honoring the extraordinary quantity, quality, and influence of the approximately 500 books that he wrote or edited. His own work as a scientist informed his lifelong preoccupation with the ways in which technology and culture interact, and he helped to blur the line between sci-fi and literature with books like I, Robot and the Foundation trilogy.
  8. terrain
    a piece of ground having specific characteristics
    Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in hilly terrain during foggy weather near Los Angeles on Sunday.
    Reuters (Jan 28, 2020)
    Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people died when their helicopter crashed into a hillside near Los Angeles. Bryant retired in 2016, after 20 years with the Lakers, as the third highest scorer in NBA history. The night before the crash, LeBron James overtook that record. James also now plays for the Lakers, who cancelled a game after the crash. Terrain comes from the Latin word terra, for earth. It's the same root that gives us terrestrial and terrarium.
  9. terse
    brief and to the point
    The best of the lot is Yi Seung-Jun’s “In the Absence,” a terse, harrowing, infuriating account of the sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol that took more than 300 lives in 2014.
    New York Times (Jan 28, 2020)
    While most of the attention at the Oscars focuses on features, short films can often be just as interesting. The documentaries this year address serious subjects, but the live-action and animated categories cover a wide range from dramatic to sweet. From the Latin verb tergere, meaning "to wipe," terse originally meant "clean cut," "neat," or "polished." Now it means something that's concise and compact.
  10. untrammeled
    not confined or limited
    And with their untrammeled vision, what did those Florida iguanas see for the first time through windows on television screens?
    Fox News (Jan 28, 2020)
    It got so cold in South Florida that iguanas were falling from trees. The cold didn't kill them, but it knocked them out; since reptiles are cold-blooded their metabolisms slow down dramatically in low temperatures. Iguana meat, labeled as "chicken of the trees," began appearing in local markets as people took advantage of the frozen lizards. Trammeled comes from the Latin word trimaculum a kind of fishing net. So to be untrammeled is to be set free.
Created on January 27, 2020 (updated January 31, 2020)

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