Category Archives: Word of the Day Haiku

Esoterica – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

esoterica.png

Happy Friday. Today’s Dictionary.com word of the day is Esoterica. But I couldn’t resist the word of the day for yesterday…Throttlebottom (Definition: a harmless incompetent in public office.)! What an awesome word. Oh how I wish we used these types of words today. How enjoyable the nightly news would be if our journalists embraced some of the other obscure, descriptive words featured as words of the day. I wish I had time to research each one. Here’s a sampling of the last week or so…

Breaking news from kat’s imagination: “Today was a most cimmerian day for the nation. The halls of congress were a-twitter with crocodilian calls for justice in response to the latest canard from our vaunting, throttlebottom of a president. Meanwhile the lotus-eaters were oscitant to this developing malfeasance.”

Even if the news is bad, at least it would be entertaining.

But back to our official word of the day, Esoterica. It is a noun that evolved from the Greek adjective esōterikós which means “belonging to the initiate, inner, esoteric” with a “distinguished history in ancient Greek philosophical systems (Pythagorian, Aristotelian, Stoic).” The English noun form is attributed to poet Ogden Nash who used the term in a 1930’s poem published in The New Yorker, referring to the obscenity trials over James Joyce’s Ulysses. It is defined as things understood  by or meant for a select few; recondite  matters or items.  Or curiosa (books,  pamphlets,  etc.,  dealing with unusual subjects, including books, pamphlets, etc., containing pornographic  literature or art; erotica).

I like this quote from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, “Life is a conundrum of esoterica”.  It literally means that life is a confusing and difficult problem, question or riddle, understood by or meant to be understood by a select few. I think it captures the meaning of esoterica perfectly!

Unless of course it is a skin cream. Esoterica the moisturizer promises to lighten dark (brownish) areas on the skin, such as freckles, age and liver spots and other skin conditions that result in localized high concentrations of melanin.

Or a Black/Heavy Metal music band called Esoterica from Pennsylvania…or the now disbanded UK Christian rap/West Coast hip-hop, Dance/Electric band called ESO for esOterica…or the name of a secret cult of humanoid characters, with access to alien technology, able to span dimensions, called the The Flame Keepers’ Circle in the gaming world’s story of Diagon. But I digress. 🙂

My job today is to come up with a haiku using today’s word of the day…Esoterica. Skin creams, Metal/Alertnative/Rock bands and video cult circles aside, I am mulling around the idea of applying estoterica to the current secretive nature of our government. With the added bonus of yesterday’s word, throttlebottom, you get a two-fer this week. Have a great weekend!

daft throttlebottoms
bellow esoterica
proving they are fools

kat ~ 24 March 2017


Smaragdine – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

Happy Friday. And Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Dictionary.com‘s perfect word for today is Smaragdine, which means of or relating to emeralds; emerald-green in color. Perfect right? It’s originated around 1350–1400 from the Middle English word smaragd that literally means “emerald” as well as Latin smaragdīnus and Greek smarágdinos, which are equivalent to smáragd(os).

Of course on a day like today I naturally think of my Irish heritage and my Chicago roots where the river through the city runs green every year. Here’s a little history about the river that I found on Wikipedia:

The tradition of dyeing the river green arose by accident when plumbers used fluorescein dye to trace sources of illegal pollution discharges. The dyeing of the river is still sponsored by the local plumbers union.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlawed the use of fluorescein for this purpose, since it was shown to be harmful to the river. The parade committee has since switched to a mix involving forty pounds of powdered vegetable dye. Though the committee closely guards the exact formula, they insist that it has been tested and verified safe for the environment. Furthermore, since the environmental organization Friends of the Chicago River believes the dye is probably not harmful, they do not oppose the practice.


In 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama, a Chicago native, requested that the White House fountains be dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Clearly that smaragdine river leaves quite an impression on us Chicago daughters!

An imaginative 17th century depiction of the Emerald Tablet from the work of Heinrich Khunrath, 1606.


I found one more cool reference to the word. It has to do with an ancient cryptic piece Hermetic lore called the the Smaragdine Tablet. It’s origin is a point of debate, with some scholars who believe it to be 1200 years old and others who claim that it is over 38,000 years old, chiseled into a smaragdine tablet by the gods. It has been associated with the philosopher’s stone, laboratory experimentation, phase transition, the alchemy and magic.

There is even a reference from the tablet in the Gnostic Gospels of Phillip and Thomas in the text “above and below” as much as “inside and outside.” You can read more HERE.

And there is even a modern reference to the tablet in the 2006 miniseries, “The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb”. If you have several hours to kill, you can spend some time researching this tablet. It’s definitely an interesting read if you like a good mystery.


Which brings me back to Chicago and the green river and St. Paddy’s Day. Trust me it does….take me back, that is. When I was a girl I always believed that it was the magic of leprechauns who turned the river green.

We all need a bit of magic and mystery every now and again so we don’t take ourselves and the crazy realities of the world too seriously. I think I understand why Mrs. Obama asked for that green fountain on March 17th. I find myself googling Chicago every year to see the green river. As crazy weird and mysterious as it is, it gives me comfort and memories of home…and of course Spring! 

Sláinte ~ kat

smaragdine rivers,
stones etched mysteriously
greening is magic

kat – 17 March 2017


Stravage – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

stravage

Happy Friday. Today’s Dictionary.com Word of the Day is Stravage.

Originally entering the English language in the late 18th century this Scottish/Irish word is derived from an aphetic contraction, which means that it is a word formed by combining two words as well as by aphesis (the loss of an unstressed vowel at the beginning of a word (e.g., of a from around to form round ).

From Medieval Latin we have ‘extravigari’ which means to wander out of bounds, digress or ramble. ‘Vagare’ is an Italian intransitive verb that means: to wander aroundroam around, to roam. I particularly like this Italian phrase: “vagare con la fantasia” which means to give free rein to one’s imaginationlet one’s imagination run away with one.

And to round out the etymology of this most interesting word, the Italian verb ‘vagare’ or ‘vargari’ is derived from the adjective ‘vagus’ which means strolling or unsettled and is thought to be a precursor of the English word ‘vagrant’. Back to our word, stravage. To get to its current form, the “ex” from the original Latin ‘extravigari’ was dropped by the Scots who converted the word to ‘stravaig’. It was later embraced by the English, dropping the ‘i’and adding an ‘e’.

I was able to find a delightful, award-winning Glasgow restaurant called Stravaigin in my stravaging across the internet. True to its name, their website’s “About” page links us back to this 18th century word: “‘Stravaig’ meaning ‘to wander’ encompasses our ‘Think Global, Eat Local’ ethos perfectly. So wander off the beaten path into either the street level cafe bar or the downstairs restaurant where you’ll find menus showcasing Scottish produce that isn’t tethered to its roots. Awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand every year since 2012.” Stravaigin is quite modern however, offering local fare with an exotic flare. Click on the link of their name above to check them out. If ever you’re in Glasgow…;)

The Scots, I have learned, are very proud of their native language and heritage. There is an entire website devoted to all thing Scots…but I suppose I am digressing…or stravaging you might say. Since I am descended from Scottish ancestors, this will be on my to-do list for future study. 🙂

I am quite fond of stravaging. I admit that I do it often! Those who know me are able to recognize my stravaging ways immediately. I am told my eyes glaze over and I may start humming a tune to myself, which drives people batty. But in my mind, I am having a jolly good time taking it all in. The scenery that is. I am not so worried about the destinations in life that I do not pay good mind to the journey. The journey after all is where it’s at. (whatever “it” may be) I have a tin plaque in my room that says, “I never worry when I get lost, I just change where I want to go.” A friend got it for me. Stravage is a good word of the day for me. Fits me to a “t”. Have a great Friday!

to those who stravage
some may think you’re a lost fool
 but you are seeking 

to be an artist
it helps to be an odd bird
with stravaging wit

delicate ivy
stravages up walls, clinging
destruction’s embrace

~kat – 10 March 2017


Hydra – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

hydra

Happy Friday! Today’s Word of the Day on Dictionary.com is “Hydra”. At first glance I assumed that it probably had something to do with water; at least that is what I thought, based on its similarity to its cousin “hydro”.  But as I have discovered time and again, every word and its origin is many splendored and complex thing!

Dictionary.com defines Hydra as a “persistent or many-sided problem that presents new obstacles as soon as one aspect is solved.” It cites its first use in English literature by the great Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-c1400) which is where things get interesting because Chaucer’s reference is derived from the Middle French ydre which is derived from the Latin hydra which is borrowed from the Greek hydra which means “water-serpent”, and is closely related to the Greek Hydor for “water” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root words…wed, wod, and ud meaning “wet water” which is the same as the German root, which is linked to the the Slavic (Czech) root voda for “water” or ‘vodka”…which is also linked to the Old Irish root uisce for “water” bringing us to the full circle back to the English language the links Hydra’s origins to the word “whiskey”. I could use a drink right about now! What does this word mean exactly? Please refer to the definition the photo above. Okay…I get it…I think…maybe not. Clearly this word has been around for a long, long time giving it many opportunities to morph from culture to culture and from ancient to modern.

A side thought…I absolutely love this simple little 5 letter word because it is a great word for us Scrabble or Words with Friends fans. It makes use of that pesky, high dollar (point) “Y” in the middle of a word that is short enough that you might actually have a bingo on the board. Well not exactly a bingo, because you can only have a bingo on a bingo board…but you get my drift.

A quick jaunt on the Google express brought me to Wikipedia which splintered off in a myriad of directions in reference to this word. Here are a few highlights:

Hydra is a winner of a word with a myriad of meanings associated with it…as numerous as, perhaps, the many heads of a serpentine water monster from Greek and Roman mythology that goes by the name Hydra? Um yep…that’s the one. In mythology the Hydra’s lair is on the lake of Lerna and it was also reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld with “poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly!” Eventually the Hydra was killed by Hercules, but not before he discovered that each time he cut off one of its heads, two more would grow in its place! His skillful use of the sword, followed by a quick cauterizing of the neck stubs with fire, are what finally killed the beast in the end.

Then of course there are the smaller versions of this monster, a genus of tiny freshwater animals that are tubular in shape with tentacles and a leech-like mouth. These Hydras have fascinated scientists for years because they are asexual little beasts who can regenerate their parts if injured and who also do not appear to age or die of old age. One scientist by the name of Daniel Martinez even made the claim in a 1998 article that Hydra are biologically immortal! I’ll have what they’re having…a healthy helping of plankton and unicellular algae, thank you very much…or maybe not…:P

A look to the sky gives us another view of Hydra the constellation. Discovered in the 2nd century by astronomer Ptolemy, it is represented as a “water snake” and is the largest of modern constellations; its close neighbors include Libra, Centaurus and Cancer.

Hydra is also the name of the outermost, odd shaped, water ice moon of Pluto (formerly known as the Planet Pluto).

And then there is what seems to be a never-ending list of Hydras that range from Brands and company names to people, places, pop culture, sports and technology. (See the entire list HERE)

Of course I could go on…but I won’t. It’s Friday after all and the weekend is calling my name! Have a good one yourself.

Might be a hydra
if one thinks a problem’s solved
beware of the glitch

~kat – 3 March 2017


Scapegrace – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

scapegrace

Happy Friday! Today’s Word of the Day from Dictionary.com is “Scapegrace”. When I first saw it, I thought of the common term scapegoat, but this word has very little to do with scapegrace, unless of course you are talking about the poor sap who finds himself in the company of a scapegrace; blamed for the unscrupulous deeds of their grace-less scoundrel of a friend! Then the two fit together, albeit uncomfortably, like two peas in a pod.

Scapegrace is defined by various online dictionaries as a complete rogue or rascal; a habitually unscrupulous person; scamp; a reckless and unprincipled reprobate; or a kinder definition states, “A man or boy of reckless and disorderly habits; an incorrigible scamp. Often used playfully.” A common synonym for the word is “black sheep”. You get the picture. You likely have a picture in your mind right now of a particular scapegrace you might know. (not going to mention any names here 😉 )

The word entered the English language in the mid 18th to early 19th century, over 200 years after the word “scapegoat” came into play, which is rather ironic in retrospect. It took two centuries for scapegrace to become a word, leaving poor old scapegoat to face the music alone. One wonders if it was just hiding all those years.

Scapegrace is made up of the verb “scape” which is a variant of “escape” and the noun “grace”, which literally means “one who escapes or flees the grace of God.”

Oh, and there is one other obscure meaning associated with the word. Scapegrace, in ornithological (the branch of zoology that deals with birds) circles, can also refer to a red-throated loon or diver. Like other loons scapegrace loons are primarily fish eaters and monogamous. Their red throat comes into play during mating rituals. They are not particularly graceful on land due to the positioning of their legs toward their back ends. In fact, the word loon is thought to be derived from the Swedish “lom” which means “lame” or “clumsy”, but this is said to give them great mobility and thrust in and under water. They are excellent swimmers taking to the water only days after hatching.

They are also associated with the creation mythology of indigenous peoples, given the name “earth-diver” in one such story. As legend goes, the Red-Throated Diver was asked by a great shaman to bring up the earth from the bottom of the sea. This is how the world’s dry land was formed.

Through the years the loon was also used as a weather predictor. Move over Mr. Ground Hog! Depending on the location, some people believed it would be fair or rainy based on the direction of the scapegrace’s flight (inland – nice weather or out to sea – not so nice). Other communities relied on its various calls to determine the weather; a gaa-gaa-gaa or turkatrae-turkatrae meant nice weather, whereas meowing like a cat was a sure prediction of rain. With few predators the oldest known Red-Throated Loon, found in Sweden, lived to be about 23 years.

So there you have it, a glimpse into another odd word that we rarely use these days with an avian link associated with its meaning. I’m beginning to see a trend here! What to do, what to do with this week’s Haiku…scapegoats, but not scapegoats and scapegraces and loons…

If you’re a scapegoat
you likely know a scapegrace
who is a bad egg!

~kat – 24 February 2017

Have a great weekend!


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