Category Archives: Haiku

Oscitant – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

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Today’s Dictionary.com word of the day is “oscitant. It’s a rather matter-of-fact word, with little backstory or legend to be found in its etymology. I suppose we need a few to the point with no detour words so we don’t get completely confused. According to Dictionary.com oscitant is defined as:

1-drowsy or inattentive.
2-yawning, as with drowsiness; gaping.
3-dull, lazy, or negligent.

It originates from the Latin verb ōscitāre which means “to yawn, gape (of animals); “to turn toward the sun (of plants”; and by the extension “to be listless, drowsy, inactive, half asleep.” It entered the English language in the early 17th century.

“Surely there is something interesting to report on this word,” you might be thinking. But nope. What you see is pretty much what you get. Much like its definition, it is rather boring, yawn-inducing…oscitant in fact.

But I did become intrigued with a word very much related to oscitant. It is word yawn. Here are a few fun facts regarding yawns.

  • Commonly associated with tiredness, stress, sleepiness or even boredom and hunger, a yawn is in fact thought to have more to do with the cooling of one’s brain. (Who knew?!)
  • Yawning consists of the simultaneous inhalation of air and the stretching of the eardrums, followed by an exhalation of breath.
  • In some cultures yawning is considered an action that has spiritual significance. In this case an open mouth is associated with letting one’s soul out or allowing evil spirits in. It is believed that this may be why we have been trained to cover our mouths when we yawn, so as not to be vulnerable to losing one’s soul or becoming possessed by a demon!
  • Yawning “loudly” is considered the height of rudeness and in former societies could even lead to contempt of court charges.
  • Contagious Yawning is a real thing seen in humans and animals as an empathetic response or positive feedback.
  • Contagious Yawning may also be an instinctual herd instinct that has kept animals alert giving them an evolutionary advantage.
  • In primates, a yawn is a threat gesture and a way of maintaining social structure.
  • Humans can pass a contagious yawn to dogs.
  • Excessive yawning can be a symptom of disease such as multiple sclerosis or brain stem ischaemic stroke, particularly as they are related to neurological pathways and cortisol levels.
  • Other reasons why animals yawn include: Yawning as a part of courtship rituals (the ecstatic display of certain types of penguins), as a display of dominance or anger (as is the case for baboons, Siamese Fighting fish, guinea pigs), to realign their jaws after a meal (as demonstrated by snakes) and for respiratory reasons (fish in general due to a lack of oxygen).

Even when a word “is what it is”, leave it to me, I’ll find a way of making it interesting! 🙂

Have a great weekend! Here’s my Haiku.

Oscitant Haiku

a speaker’s nightmare,
more than forgetting one’s speech,
an oscitant crowd

kat ~17 February 2017


Shell Games – A Few Haiku

we collect sea shells
holding them up to our ears
the sea is calling

frail shells of starved flesh
rags draped over boney frames
we die for fashion

children are spoiled
when parents shell out money
it has no value.

kat -16 February 2017

For Haiku Horizons Challenge, prompt word: Shell,


Eyes Fade ~ A Haiku 


when fading eyesight
awakens other senses
sight is relative

kat – 16 February 2017

A Haiku based on the prompt words, Eye and Fade, for Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge.


Whiffler – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

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Happy Friday! Today’s Dictionary.com Word of the Day is “Whiffler”. The pop up meme for today’s word defines whiffler as “a person who frequently shifts opinions, attitudes, interests, etc. You know, your basis politician!

But as is the case with most words, there is more to the story. Oh yeah, there definitely is. A quick survey of other dictionaries revealed a few more facets to this fun to say word.

Whiffler Definitions
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary

  1. Whiffler An officer who went before procession to clear the way by blowing a horn, or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.”Which like a mighty whiffler ‘fore the king,
    Seems to prepare his way.”
  2. Whiffler One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  3. Whiffler One who whiffles, or frequently changes his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; hence, a trifler.”Every whiffler in a laced coat who frequents the chocolate house shall talk of the constitution.”
  4. Whiffler(Zoöl) The golden-eye.

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. n-whiffler A piper or fifer.
  2. n-whiffler A herald or usher; a person who leads the way, or prepares the way, for another: probably so called because the pipers (see piper,1) usually led the procession.
  3. n-whiffler One who whiffles; one who changes frequently his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; a fickle or unsteady person.
  4. n-whiffler A puffer of tobacco; a whiffer.
  5. n-whiffler The whistlewing, or goldeneye duck.

I discovered that there are two different references relating to the origin of the word, depending on the definition applied. First, around 1530-40, a whiffler was defined as an armed attendant who cleared the way for a procession derived from the Old English wifle or wifel for spear or  battle-ax. Later, between 1600 – 1610 the moniker ‘Whiffler’ was applied to a person who frequently shifts opinions, vacillates or is evasive in an argument. Somewhere in the time between these two definitions, some suggest because whifflers who wielded flags or spears stirred up “whiffles of wind”, whiffle came to be defined  as  wind that blows in puffs or slight gusts, or veered or shifted about. This may explain how the definition morphed from armed attendant to bloviating bag of wind (aka one who is shifty or evasive, or a trifler), but there is more to the story of this word. It is also used synonymously with the word piper, as in one who plays a fife. Still more wind references.

I also happened upon the recollection of 20th century Thomas Ratcliffe, a contributor to Notes and Queries who wrote about the “art of the Whiffle-Waffler”. It was apparently a common art, or sport as I would call it, where boys and men would twirl sticks with their hands, around their bodies and heads, behind their backs, under their thighs and high up in the air, catching them with great precision. Uh…sounds a bit like baton twirling to me. 🙂 Apparently it was a classy “thing” back in the day and an art practiced exclusively by men. At any rate, the “art” of whiffle-waffling apparently died out in the mid 19th century. There is a sad story penned by George Borrow in his work The Romany Rye in 1857 that states, “The last of the whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago … from pure grief that there was no further demand for the exhibition of his art, there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuance of Guildhall banquets.” 

The article I read on the topic also encouraged one to imagine the drum major or field commander of a marching band who leads with a baton or military mace. While not directly related, the author suggested that we can imagine the two side by side, an armed attendant leading a royal entourage and a baton wielding band leader leading a drum corps.

So there you have it. Whiffler and its many iterations and applications over the years…except for just one teeny, tiny, little thing. There’s more.

Whiffler can also be another name for the Goldeneye long-tailed duck or Whistlewing, so called because of the whistling sound that it makes when it flies. Ok…related to the wind…that fits. But what does a duck have to do with the original Dictionary.com definition? Except maybe to say… “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck.”

I better just get to my haiku’s (I have two of them for you today)…and wish you a happy weekend!

Whifflers

A shifty whiffler
spinning alternative facts
loves gullible fools

Some whifflers whiffle
while some others may waffle
unless they’re a duck

kat – 10 February 2017


Rain – A Haiku

Photo from Pixabay.com


those who curse the rain
forget that we are water
and muddy puddles!

kat ~ 9 February 2017

For Haiku Horizons Challenge, prompt word: Rain.


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