This Week In Words: April 19–25, 2020

Stories about record low oil prices, a blockbuster Senate report, and Kim Jong-Un's health all contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the news.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. autopsy
    an examination and dissection of a dead body
    Autopsies on two people who died on 6 February and 17 February show they died with Covid-19.
    Covid-19 was in the U.S. earlier than previously thought. Two people who died in Santa Clara County, California in January both had the disease. With slow, insufficient, and sometimes inaccurate testing, it's proving difficult for scientists to determine how many people may have already been sick and therefore what percentage of the population might already have immunity. Autopsy comes from Greek, via Latin; autopsia means "to see with one's own eyes" in Greek.
  2. despot
    a cruel and oppressive dictator
    President Donald Trump said Tuesday he doesn't know whether North Korean despot Kim Jong Un is ill but nevertheless wished him luck in his potential ailments.
    U.S. intelligence agencies say that there is evidence that Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator, is seriously ill following heart surgery. He hasn't been seen in public in some time, and missed the celebration of his grandfather's April 15th birthday, a national holiday. Despot is a Greek word, meaning a "lord" or "master."
  3. epidemiologist
    a specialist who studies the spread and control of diseases
    This is why epidemiologists are cautioning state leaders to inch toward reopening with tentative, staggered steps.
    Experts are urging caution when it comes to relaxing restrictions on businesses, saying that letting people go back to work too soon will cause a major increase in illnesses and deaths. Even in cities past the peak of the pandemic outbreak, some form of social distancing and limits on groups will need to remain in effect. An epidemiologist studies epidemics.
  4. glut
    supply with an excess of
    "It’s beginning to clean out the glut in oil supply and restore the balance with demand.”
    Because so many people are at home, and therefore not driving or working, oil prices fell dramatically. Demand is so low that there's now a huge excess of oil just sitting around, and with very few places left to store more, oil companies are slowing down the production of new supply. A glut is just that: too much of something. It comes from glutton, a person who eats too much of everything whenever possible.
  5. panacea
    hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases
    “Contrary to misguided directives,” Mr. Bright said, he “limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.”
    Rick Bright, who was fired from his position as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, says it was because he contradicted the President about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. The President repeatedly pushed the drug, without evidence, and recent tests have actually shown a slightly higher death rate among patients who received it.
  6. ply
    travel a route regularly
    Since January, when the coronavirus epidemic began to surge, the Chinese government and Coast Guard ships, along with maritime militias, have been plying contested waters in the South China Sea, tangling with regional maritime enforcement agencies and harassing fishermen.
    As China continues to aggressively move military forces and facilities into the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy has deployed ships to the area to deny China control of the area. China claims ownership over a huge piece of ocean between Vietnam and the Philippines, and has been building bases on manmade islands. The U.S. rejects this claim. ply originates in the French verb plier, meaning "to bend," and has a number of interesting uses.
  7. scheme
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
    The university said it received the grant through the educational relief scheme that was part of the $2.2tn stimulus passed at the end of March, which also included a fund aimed at helping small businesses.
    Harvard University, which has an endowment of over $40 billion, received $8.6 million as part of the economic stimulus bill. President Trump said the school should return the money, but Harvard said that it would put all of the funds toward financial assistance for students.
  8. scour
    rub hard or scrub
    The economic fallout from the pandemic has scoured the tourism and hospitality industries, but Congress blocked the Trump Organization from dipping into the initial $500 billion coronavirus relief fund.
    Despite being blocked from receiving any money from the recent stimulus bill, the Trump Organization is still asking for help with rent on several of its hotels.
  9. tradecraft
    the techniques and skills used in espionage
    Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that the assessment reflected "strong tradecraft" and "sound analytical reasoning."
    The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report stating that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, and did so specifically to help President Trump win. All of the central claims were found to be sound, backed by multiple sources, and free from bias. The version of the report that was made public had much of the text blacked out, leading many to speculate about what additional information it contains.
  10. xenophobic
    having abnormal fear or hatred of foreigners
    “It is absolutely despicable that he would use COVID-19 as an excuse to push his xenophobic agenda,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
    The President's recent move to temporarily stop immigration was met with harsh criticism, especially from the diverse tech sector that employs a lot of immigrants. In response, the administration allowed temporary visas to remain valid while blocking new green cards from being issued. Another Greek word, xenophobia literally means "fear of foreigners."
Created on April 21, 2020 (updated April 23, 2020)

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