This Week In Culture: May 10–16, 2020

Quarantine is pushing more and more culture online. Stories about music, theater, and even art classes adapting to the new normal contributed timely words to our list of vocabulary from the arts, sports, and tech worlds.

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. anatomy
    the study of the structure of animals
    Cartoonist Josh Bayer is teaching cartooning and illustration via Zoom, from anatomy to shadowing and building what he calls “a vocabulary as a cartoonist”.
    Online art classes are becoming very popular as people try to learn new things during quarantine. Some art schools are putting their model drawing and other classes online, and colleges like U.C. Berkeley now offer free Zoom art courses in drawing, painting, and even sculpture. Anatomia is a Greek word meaning "dissection."
  2. entomology
    the branch of zoology that studies insects
    I know these things both because I love bugs enough to have flirted with majoring in entomology during my university studies, and because I have lived in Tokyo for close to twenty years.
    Because you're a word-lover, you probably know etymology, the study and origin of words, is completely different from entomology, the study of insects. But the "murder hornets" you may have heard about might be the victims of a little linguistic confusion. The Japanese name for these bugs is satsujin bachi, meaning "killer hornet," like our "killer bees." But since satsujin can mean "murder" in other contexts, news editors jumped on that meaning to make them scarier.
  3. feasible
    capable of being done with means at hand
    "I think it's feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium," Fauci said.
    When the NFL begins its season in September, the games will probably be held in empty stadiums. Fox Sports has said that it may digitally add people to the stands and use fake crowd noises to make it look and sound like a normal game. Feasible comes from the Old French faisable, which literally means "doable."
  4. internment
    the act of confining someone in a prison
    Although PBS has featured a number of more focused documentary projects that addressed the Chinese Exclusion Act immigration ban, Japanese American internment, and the Vietnam War in the past, "Asian Americans" gives much more context to how all of these diverse communities and more are connected.
    Asian Americans, a five part series on PBS, aired this week. The documentary covers the experiences of Asian immigrants to the U.S. and their descendants since the country's founding. The show coincides with a sharp increase in Asian people appearing in TV shows and films, many of which have been hits, like Master of None, The Mindy Project, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Farewell.
  5. mogul
    a very wealthy or powerful businessperson
    It took a group text from legendary music executive Andre Harrell, record producer and mogul L.A. Reid, plus Sean “Whatever He’s Calling Himself Now” Combs to convince the singer/songwriter/producer/covid-19 survivor that going up against a fellow musician on Instagram was a good idea.
    Timbaland and Swizz Beats have co-created Verzuz, a musical duel on Instagram Live. Popular artists go head to head, talking to each other and taking turns spinning records for each other and the audience, which votes for the one they like better. Over 700,000 people recently watched the contest between Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
  6. notoriety
    the state of being known for some unfavorable act or quality
    The 61-year-old’s explosive temper on the court brought him notoriety at the height of his career in the late 1970s and 1980s.
    Variety (May 14, 2020)
    The new Netflix show Never Have I Ever tells the story of a teenage Indian-American girl in Sherman Oaks, California. It's narrated by tennis legend John McEnroe, who won 7 Grand Slam titles in the 1970s and 80s and has spent recent years doing live tennis commentary for TV networks. Notoriety comes from the Latin notorius, meaning "well-known," though in English it has a negative connotation: people know your name, but not for a good reason.
  7. octogenarian
    being from 80 to 89 years old
    The Austin Chronicle said: "A man has not fully lived, comedically speaking, until his eyes and ears have been blessed with the experience of octogenarian Jerry Stiller as Doc..."
    Jerry Stiller, actor and father of movie star Ben Stiller, died at 92. He first became successful in the 1960s as half of a comedy duo with his wife, Anne Meara. Later, he would play George Costanza's father on Seinfeld and Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens. He also had roles in many movies, both comic and serious, and a long career as a stage actor.
  8. opulent
    rich and superior in quality
    Helpfully, Shakespeare is no longer under copyright, and the language, if retained, is opulent, juicy.
    As everyone figures out fun and productive ways to use technology during social distancing, Shakespeare's plays are enjoying a surge in popularity. Because the stories are timeless, and the language is as good as it gets, actors are finding ways to reinterpret and remix the works for the remote digital age. Opulentus is Latin for "rich" or "wealthy."
  9. radical
    far beyond the norm
    Central to this dream were a famous family of radical intellectuals, the Sarabhais, who helped set up the NID.
    Most people agree that techno was invented in Detroit in the 1980s. But a new documentary, Electronic India, which airs this week on the BBC, rewrites that history. The astonishing discovery of an archive of experimental electronic music at India's National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad shows that students there, composing on a Moog synthesizer, created similar music nearly twenty years earlier. The documentary will be available online shortly after it airs on May 17.
  10. stigma
    a symbol of disgrace or infamy
    Galatro feels that the stigma surrounding having internet friends has decreased, even more so since social distancing started.
    Music fans are finding ways of bringing their communities together online, holding virtual concerts where they all listen to the same playlist in a huge group videoconference. With no certain date for live events to resume, these gatherings allow fans to feel connected to each other and the bands they love, and to have fun by wearing costumes. Some artists are also hosting events, where they talk with their fans and answer questions.
Created on May 14, 2020 (updated May 15, 2020)

Sign up, it's free!

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