This Week In Words: July 25–31, 2020

A final message from John Lewis, the Navy's first Black female pilot, and mystery seeds from China: these stories and more contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the news.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. allocate
    distribute according to a plan or set apart for a purpose
    Under intense White House pressure, Senate Republicans agreed Monday to allocate $1.75 billion in their coronavirus relief bill toward the construction of a new D.C. headquarters for the FBI.
    Senate Republicans included $1.75 billion for rebuilding the FBI headquarters in Washington in their version of a relief bill. The White House had insisted on it, and while everyone agrees that the current building is run down, most also agree that a new site outside the city is the best solution. Critics of the plan from both parties say that the President wants to rebuild the existing building so it doesn't become a hotel that competes with the one he owns a block away.
  2. condolence
    an expression of sympathy with another's grief
    Former Cain aide Ellen Carmichael, who had served as the communications director for Cain's campaign, tweeted her condolences.
    Herman Cain, former Godfather's Pizza CEO and 2012 republican Presidential candidate, died of Covid-19 at the age of 74. He had been sick since shortly after attending the Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late June, where he and most others did not wear masks. Condolence is Latin for "to feel pain along with" someone.
  3. daunting
    discouraging through fear
    Her early love of fast planes became the focus of her career and she describes her three years of training with a higher-performance aircraft " daunting."
    The Navy's first Black woman received her Wings of Gold this week, designating her as a qualified fighter pilot. Lieutenant Madeline Swegle said that she wanted to be a pilot since her parents took her to see the Blue Angels when she was a child. She also said that she hopes her story will be an inspiration to other girls and women.
  4. falter
    move hesitatingly, as if about to give way
    The collapse in GDP and faltering recovery put pressure on the White House and Congress to agree on a second stimulus package.
    With over 150,000 dead so far from Covid-19, the American economy is in the worst shape it's been in since the Great Depression nearly 100 years ago. Experts are calling for another rescue package along the lines of the $3 trillion bill passed in the spring. Unemployment supplements of $600 per week are due to expire, as is a ban on evictions. Falter's origin is unclear, but it may be related to the Middle English falden, meaning "fold."
  5. mandamus
    a court order requiring an official to perform a function
    A chief argument against their intervention was that the situation did not qualify for the extraordinary remedy of an immediate order to the trial judge — a so-called writ of mandamus — because an alternative was available: Judge Sullivan could be permitted to make his decision in the normal course, and if Mr. Flynn did not like it, he could file an appeal.
    The Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals vacated an earlier decision dismissing the case against Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the Trump campaign. He later changed his plea, and then Attorney General Barr moved to drop all charges. Barr's move was met with a firestorm of criticism from people saying he was trying to protect the President's corrupt associate.
  6. proximity
    the property of being close together
    A photo on Twitter shows the two men in proximity, neither wearing masks.
    After Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert refused to wear a mask during a House hearing with the Attorney General, and then tested positive for Covid-19 shortly afterward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that any member who violates the rules governing safe conduct will be removed. Gohmert was tested because he was due to travel to Texas with the President.
  7. query
    an instance of questioning
    Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) posed the first query to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos after two hours of questions, asking about a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon had mined third-party sellers’ data to develop and launch its own competing products.
    CEOs from giant tech companies — Google, Facebook, and Amazon — testified before Congress about the huge power their firms wield. Many representatives were concerned about privacy issues, election interference, and the abuse of surveillance tech. Query, which means "question," appears to have originated in the Latin queri, meaning "to complain."
  8. spate
    a sudden forceful flow
    His tweet comes as a spate of recent polling in battleground states -- and even states he won handily in 2016 -- show him trailing or virtually tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, and widespread disapproval of his handling of the pandemic.
    The President tweeted that we should consider delaying the election in November, even though he doesn't have the authority to do that. The Constitution gives Congress authority over election dates. He also made false claims about mail-in voting causing massive fraud. Members of both parties pushed back quickly against his desire to postpone the election. In fifteenth-century Scottish dialect, a spate is a flood.
  9. unsolicited
    not asked for
    But it it “doesn’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales”.
    A number of Americans received seeds in the mail from China. No explanation or information was enclosed, and officials urged people not to plant them since they could be invasive species or carry diseases that could sicken domestic crops. Experts say the seeds are likely part of what's known as a "brushing" scam, where vendors send things to customers and then leave fake positive reviews to boost their status on sites like Amazon.
  10. wrench
    twist or pull violently or suddenly
    You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.
    Shortly before his death, Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis wrote an open letter to the American people that was published this week. In it, he calls on citizens to vote, and to protect their democracy. He goes on to say that the struggle for freedom and equality is a long one, and that participation and activism by regular people will help to improve society for everyone. A wrench is a tool, but it's also a violent, twisting motion — whether literal or figurative.
Created on July 30, 2020 (updated July 31, 2020)

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