Category Archives: Word of the Day Haiku

Rasputin – Friday’s Word of the Day

Friday’s Word of the Day at is Rasputin. It is defined as

1. any person who exercises great but insidious influence;

2. named for Grigori Efimovich Rasputin, 1871 – 1916, a Siberian peasant monk who was very influential at the court of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra. gives the following summary on the origin of this eponym (a word relating to, or being the person or thing for whom or which something is named: of, relating to.):

Grigori Efimovich Rasputin (c1871-1916) was a Russian peasant and self-proclaimed mystic and holy man (he had no official position in the Russian Orthodox Church). By 1904 Rasputin was popular among the high society of St. Petersburg, and in 1906 he became the healer of Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov, heir to the Russian throne and the hemophiliac son of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a carrier of hemophilia). In December 1916 Rasputin was murdered by Russian noblemen because of his influence over Czar Nicholas and the czarina.

Rasputin, I learned, is something of a legend. He was a towering man at 6’4”, believed to be a healer with clairvoyant powers. He had a wild appearance, that earned him the nickname, the “mad monk”. Though he was married and had a daughter and two sons, he earned notoriety as a philanderer and drunkard. Oddly his promiscuous behavior was, according to him, a religious practice. He believed that in order to be redeemed of sin, one must immerse oneself in it. Word of his orgies, that he called sessions of “rejoicing”, spread, much to the displeasure of the Orthodox Church. Despite his horrible hygiene, he had plenty of willing partners and hundreds of followers who called themselves “Rasputinkis.”

Eventually his wild living caught up with him. Several attempts were made on his life. The first was made by a masked woman who stabbed his abdomen so violently his entrails spilled out. The intervention of a surgeon saved him that time.

He would eventually meet his end but, as his murderer would learn, Rasputin was not an easy man to kill. On a single night, he was poisoned, which only seemed to give him a buzz, shot four times, with one bullet directly to his head, followed by a severe bludgeoning and finally he was bound and tossed into a frozen river. An autopsy later showed that he died from drowning and hypothermia, even after being poisoned, shot, beaten and, some believe, castrated. His pickled member was supposedly displayed throughout the region, a relic of sorts, said to have properties that could cure men of impotence.

Everything about Rasputin was larger than life. But it was his sinister control over the Romanoffs that eventually led to his demise and soon after, the fall of an empire.

Today we use the word Rasputin to describe someone who has evil influence over someone in power. I can think of a few examples…

Frankenstein’s Igor,
Bush’s Cheney, Trump’s Bannon,
ruthless Rasputins


Messan – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the day at is Messan.

Its definition from the Dictionary of the Scots Language states that a messan is…
1. A small pet dog or house dog, as opposed to a dog used for some form of work, a lap-dog 
2. (a word) used contemptuously: a mongrel, a cur 
3. A term of contempt applied to human adults signifying lack of stature or dignity; or to a child. tells us that, The English noun messan “small dog, lap dog” comes from Scots Gaelic measan “small dog,” cognate with Irish Gaelic measán, both of which are diminutives of Gaelic mess “favored (one).” Messan entered English in the late 15th century.

It’s not a word that is used often, and I couldn’t find a lot of additional info online. It is a timely word, nonetheless, for today’s celebration of Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Earth Dog. Happy New Year!

I also learned that messan is a valid Scrabble word, so if you are a game board enthusiast, keep this one in your brain vault of useful words. According to Merriam-Webster 59 playable words can be unscrambled from this gem that has a letter value of 8 points.

Of course, before I close I must admit that I have a few messans of my very own, though they do not fit the physical description as defined. Still, they think they are messans and I have a few bruises to show for it! I was able to find an obscure dictionary reference (Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia: Including Atlas of the World …, Volume 5) that actually mentioned ‘mastiffs’ in the definition. So perhaps there is an instinctual reason why my big lugs find my lap so appealing!

Have a great weekend! 😊

messan-dogs find laps
their favorite place to be
that’s a lot of love


Intersectionality – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at is a modern word coined by the American feminist legal scholar, critical race theorist, and civil rights activist, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989. Intersectionality is the theory that the overlap of various social identities as race, gender, sexuality and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual (often used attributively): Her paper uses a queer intersectionality approach. It is also defined as the oppression and discrimination resulting from the overlap of an individual’s various social identities: the intersectionality of oppression experienced by black women.

From Wikipedia:

In her work, Crenshaw discussed Black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black and of being a woman considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other. Crenshaw mentioned that the intersectionality experience within black women is more powerful than the sum of their race and sex, and that any observations that do not take intersectionality into consideration cannot accurately address the manner in which black women are subordinated.

Intersectionality is a theory which considers that the various aspects of humanity, such as class, race, sexual orientation and gender, do not exist separately from each other, but are complexly interwoven, and that their relationships are essential to an understanding of the human condition. When systems of justice or other entities attempt to look at each aspect in isolation, then misconceptions may occur and essential understandings may be lost. The theory proposes that individuals think of each element or trait of a person as inextricably linked with all of the other elements in order to fully understand one’s identity.

In 2011 Columbia Law School, under the direction of Professor Crenshaw, established the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. The Center’s existing projects focus on race, gender, and incarceration; substandard education and low-wage work; race, sexuality, and masculinities; and the generation of new disabilities and illnesses among communities of color.” You can read more about their work HERE.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is also featured in a variety of lectures and TED talks. A quick Google search will give you an opportunity to learn more about intersectionality from Dr. Crenshaw herself.

Here’s a quick haiku (which wasn’t easy, considering that this is a SEVEN syllable word!)

Have a great weekend…

it’s just a theory
unless it’s your life




Oblivescence – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at is oblivescence which means: forgetting; state of being forgotten; the condition or fact of failing to remember or having failed to remember or of being absent-minded.

According to,
Oblivescence dates from the late 19th century and is a later spelling of obliviscence, which dates from the late 18th century. The spelling oblivescence arose by influence of the far more common suffix -escence. The English noun is a derivative of the Latin verb oblīviscī “to forget,” literally “to wipe away, smooth over.” The Latin verb is composed of the prefix ob- “away, against” and the same root as the adjective lēvis “smooth.”

There are a number of references to this word in psychology that deal with memory. Oblivescence is a theory described as a means of self-preservation in our propensity to forget the disagreeable things we have experienced while preserving the pleasurable aspects of the same event.

Until I learned this word I never thought much about it, but how true it is. Upon meeting their newborn baby, many mothers completely forget the pain of labor. Holidays and family gatherings in the past are remembered only as happy occasions and completely forgotten are family tensions and arguments that may have erupted at the very same event. Memories of a loved one, now passed away become more and more positive as the years go by and we slowly forget the things about them that drove us batty. Interestingly, this phenomenon seems to happen unconsciously. It is not the same thing as having selective memories of a person, place or thing.

As I often do, I found a fun reference to this word in modern times. There is a spell or charm in the Harry Potter series as explained in this reference index excerpt:


The process of forgetting.


A memory charm or spell in the Harry Potter books that makes someone forget.


The act of memory modification which can be used by any wizard, by using the spell, “Obliviate” as described in the fictional universe of the Harry Potter series as written by J.K. Rowling.

An Obliviator is the designation for a Ministry of Magic employee who has the task of modifying the memory of a Muggle after witnessing incidents belonging to the magic world.

A Muggle is a term, sometimes used in a pejorative manner, from the fictional Harry Potter series of books that refers to a human who is a member of the non-magical community.

Here’s a wiki-link for the various occasions when this spell was used.

I often wonder why I remember some things and not others (which I am only reminded of through the recollections of others). Now I have a word for it. It’s as if random years of my life have been erased like they never happened. I suppose that is why the memories I have retained are so precious.

barely a feeling
fading to oblivescence
days of loving you


Sisyphean – Friday’s Word of the Day


Today’s word of the day on is Sisyphean. It means, endless and unavailing, as labor or tasks; of or relating to Sisyphus. It  Entered the English language in the 17th Century.

So who was this Sisyphus fellow that the word is referring to?

Well, according to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the founder and King of Ephyra (known today as Corinth). He was a vile, dishonest ruler with a very high opinion of himself. He took pleasure in killing travelers and guests to his kingdom as a way of exerting and maintaining his authority. This however, was a violation of xenia (“guest-friendship”) the ancient Greek concept of hospitality; the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship.). Sisyphus was not concerned with the rule of law and even considered himself much more clever than Zeus. For his hubris, Zeus punished King Sisyphus by forcing him to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, only to have it fall back down the hill. He was condemned to repeat this futile exercise for eternity. And this is where we get our word of the day. Things that are never-ending yet pointless are said to be Sisyphean.

Wikipedia also offered a few other scholarly references to things Sisyphean. ‘According to the solar theory, King Sisyphus is the disk of the sun that rises every day in the east and then sinks into the west. Other scholars regard him as a personification of waves rising and falling, or of the treacherous sea. The 1st-century BC Epicurean philosopher Lucretius interprets the myth of Sisyphus as personifying politicians aspiring for political office who are constantly defeated, with the quest for power, in itself and “empty thing” being likened to rolling the boulder up the hill.

In Plato‘s Apology, Socrates looks forward to the after-life where he can meet figures such as Sisyphus, who think themselves wise, so that he can question them and find who is wise and who “thinks he is when he is not”.’

More recently, J. Nigro Sansonese, building on the work of Georges Dumézil, speculates that the origin of the name “Sisyphos” is onomatopoetic of the continual back-and-forth, susurrant sound (“siss phuss”) made by the breath in the nasal passages, situating the mythology of Sisyphus in a far larger context of archaic (see Proto-Indo-European religion) trance-inducing techniques related to breath control. The repetitive inhalation–exhalation cycle is described esoterically in the myth as an up–down motion of Sisyphus and his boulder on a hill.

In experiments that test how workers respond when the meaning of their task is diminished, the test condition is referred to as the Sisyphusian condition. The two main conclusions of the experiment are that people work harder when their work seems more meaningful, and that people underestimate the relationship between meaning and motivation.

Once again, is having a bit of fun with us. There are certain leaders, who shall remain nameless, who seem to embody Sisyphus in our times. I’m not going there today. I can think of another application for this word, given that I am on lunch break from my 9-5 droning means of survival. But it is Friday. The weekend offers a bit of relief from the rat race. Have a good one.

slogging for success
is a Sisyphean rut
who you know matters


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