Category Archives: Word of the Day Haiku

Cordillera – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at is cordillera; a chain of mountains, usually the
principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass; a series of parallel ranges of mountains. The word originated around 1704, from the Spanish word for “mountain chain,”  from cordilla, in Old Spanish, “string, rope,” diminutive of cuerda,from Latin chorda “cord, rope” (seecord).

When I researched cordilleras, I discovered a new information source, Quora. Here is a nice summary that explains what a cordillera is and perhaps what it is not.

1. Cordillera includes a general highland formed in different periods and by different processes, for example, the cordillera of the western United States and British Columbia.

2. Mountain system refers to mountains formed in a single period and includes many mountain ranges and groups of single mountains, for example, Appalachian.

3. Mountain range refers to mountains formed in the same age and with the same process arranged in narrow and long belt, for example, Himalayan mountain range.

4. Mountain groups are highlands composed of different mountains but with a proper arrangement, for example, Juan mountain group.

5. Mountain ridges are mountains formed due to local folding and faulting and rise abruptly from the adjoining region, for example, Blue Ridge Mountains, USA.

Source-The Earth Dynamic Surface by K. Siddhartha

I live in the shadow of what is defined as a “mountain ridge”. The Blue Ridge Mountains, and specifically the Roanoke Valley is part of the Appalachian “mountain system” that extends from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in Canada to Central Alabama, which also includes the Catskills in New York, the Allegheny Highlands in Pennsylvania and The Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Basically it spans the Eastern portion of North America.

To find a true cordillera in North America you need to trek west to the Pacific coast to the west of The Great Basin. The Pacific Cordillera, also called Western Cordillera, the Western Cordillera of North America extends from Alaska to Central Mexico and includes three main belts: the Pacific Coast Ranges in the west, the Nevadan belt in the middle (including the Sierra Nevada), and the Laramide belt in the east (including the Rocky Mountains) extending to heights of over 20,000 feet at its highest point. This is quite a contrast to the 6,682 ft height of Mount Marshall in North Carolina in the Appalachian Mountain system.

Of course there is much more to know about Cordillera in other parts of the world, including the Andes Mountains, also known as the Cordillera de los Andes that extends over a distance of some 5,500 miles (8,900 kilometres) from the southern tip of South America to the continent’s northernmost coast on the Caribbean. They separate a narrow western coastal area from the rest of the continent and contain the highest peaks in the Western Hemisphere. The highest of them is Mount Aconcagua (22,831 feet). Other notable cordillera include: Alborz Cordillera, Northwest-Northeast Iran (also written as Elburz); Annamese Cordillera (Annamite Range), Laos and eastern Vietnam; Baetic Cordillera, Spain; East Australian Cordillera, more commonly known as the Great Dividing Range; and Zagros Cordillera, Middle East, Southeast of Turkey, Northeast of Iraq, and Northwest to Southeast Iran. From Wikipedia.

All this talk about mountains and cordillera, is making my heart race and my knees weak given my aversion to heights. But I do love the view, my feet safely planted in the valley I call home.

So, There you have it, a high level view that barely skims the apex, giving you a ‘peek’ at all things cordillera.

Here’s a Haiku to wrap this up.

cordillera cusp
grazing heaven’s canopy
air thin, vista sweet


Treen – Friday’s Word of the Day


Happy Friday! Today’s Word of the Day at is Treen. I have never heard this word before, but I must say I am a fan of antique treen pieces. Treen is an adjective that means entirely made of wood; small domestic wooden objects, especially antiques, treenware. The word originated in the 11th century. Its original adjective  meanings “made of tree (i.e., wood), wooden;  pertaining to trees or a tree” are obsolete or rare in standard English. Its current usage (20th century) as a noun refers to small articles or utensils made of wood, woodenware.

Wikipedia states that treenware is “distinct from furniture, such as chairs, and cabinetry, as well as clocks and cupboards. Before the 17th century, when silver, pewter, and ceramics were introduced for tableware, most small household items were carved from wood.”

According to the Encylcopedia Brittanica Online, Treen was unique in that it was carved from a single piece of wood. I found a few photos online that illustrate the craftsmanship that went into carving treen. The shoe treens below are actually snuff boxes.

So, if you’re like me and you never knew what treenware was…now you do. Next time I’m antique shopping I will pay particular attention to these treasures. Might have to start a collection of a treen or two. J

a forgotten craft
small hand-carved treenware treasures
for everyday use


Neatnik – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at is neatnik. Neatnik is a slang word that means a person  who  is extremely  neat about surroundings,  appearance, etc. It originated, according to, in opposition to the word beatnik,defined as a scruffy,  unshaven member of the “beat” generation (coined in 1958). The common element in both words is the suffix -nik. -Nik is a Yiddish term Slavic in origin. Its meaning is similar to the English suffix -er as in doer, thinker, dancer, etc. Its use denotes a person associated with a specified thing or quality.

Words with the suffix -nik gained popularity in the mid to late 1960’s when the Soviet Sputnik, the worlds first man-made satellite, came on the scene. By definition, a sputnik is a person (or thing) who travels with you on a path (put)* – in other words, a traveling companion. During this time there seemed to be no end to the new words (often derogatory in nature) that were coined using this suffix.

Of course there is our word of the day, NEATNIK, and its cousin, BEATNIK. And there were these iterations that you might recognize:

KAPUTNIK/FLOPNIK (1957), failed U.S. satellite attempt;
MUTTNIK (1957), Soviet satellite with dog aboard;
PEACENIK (1963), originally, opponent of the war in Vietnam;
PROTESTNIK (1965), protester against the war in Vietnam;
REFUSENIK (1975), Soviet Jews denied emigration, and also (1983), one who refused to obey orders as a form of protest;
NOSHNIK, one who likes to nosh (Yiddish for ‘eat snacks’);  STRAIGHTNIK, a heterosexual;  FILMNIK; JAZZNIK; FOLKNIK; BACHNIK; FREUDNIK; (definitions self explanatory)
BUSHNIK, admirerers of George Bush;
NOGOODNIK, a no-good person;
KIBBUTZNIK, a person who lives on a kibbutz;
BEARDNIK, a person with a beard;
SICKNIK, a sicko; a person who is perverse or mentally disturbed;
NUDNIK, a person who is very annoying; a persistent nag.

And of things political in Russia:
RASKOLNIK (1723), a dissenter from the national Church in Russia;
CHINOVNIK/TCHINOVNIK (1877), in Tsarist Russia, a government official, a civil servant, especially a minor functionary, a clerk;
NARODNIK (1885), ‘member of the (common) people,’ a supporter of a type of socialism originating amongst the Russian intelligentsia in the late 19th century and which looked on the peasants and intellectuals as revolutionary forces; a Russian populist. In extended use: a person who tries to politicize a community of rural or urban poor while sharing their living conditions; the name by which pre-Marxist Russian socialists are now generally known;
KOLKHOZNIK (1955), a member of a collective farm (a kolkhoz – 1921) in the U.S.S.R.

Here’s a a link to Wikipedia and an exhaustive list of all things -nik. Oh yes, there are more!

Just in the nick of time, 😉 here is a short three line verse (that is not a proper haiku, though it follows the 5-7-5 syllable rule) to put today’s word of the day to rest. What word would you coin using the suffix -nik? It would be a shame to let such a versatile suffix go to waste! 😊

when a neatnik is
the roommate of a beatnik
it’s an odd coupling


Tubthump – Friday’s Word of the Day

Friday’s word of the day at is tub-thump. It was hyphenated at, but I also found it presenting as “tubthump”. i found it to be an odd word, conjuring up all sorts of word pictures, in my mind at least. Tub…could be a bath tub, which was first to come to mind, or a barrel-like tub, or as it’s etymology suggested a nickname for a cooper (one who makes barrels or coffins), or most telling, a 17th century slang word for a preacher’s pulpit. Then there is Thumper, which of course made me think of that cute little bunny in the Disney classic, “Bambi”. You know. He’s the one who said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” All the while thumping his big foot drawing attention to himself, hence the moniker, Thumper.

When I put all this together the definition makes perfect sense.A Tubthumper is one who vociferously expresses an opinion in a loud, attention-drawing way. The word is often associated with zealots, fire and brimstone preachers, politicians and the like. I even read an account of tubthumpers, actors, who literally banged on tubs while wandering the streets to drum up business. Reminds me of how circuses used to come to town back in the day, before civic centers and arenas, when kids trotted along behind the circus parade as it ambled through town, settling finally, in an open field where sawdust was scattered and the big top erected! Ah, but I digress.

There were a few other tidbits associated with the word. Its origin, according to

Tub-thump, a very rare word, is a back formation of tub-thumper “a vociferous supporter of a cause.” The verb tub-thump was coined by the British author Herman C. McNeile (1888–1937), whose pen name was “Sapper,” and who wrote the series of thrillers whose hero was Bulldog Drummond. The only other author to use the verb tub-thump was the American poet and editor Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Tub-thump entered English in 1920.

And there was a 1997 song called “Tubthumper” by the British band Chumbawamba. They disbanded in 2012, but you may recognize this catchy tune if you were around in the late 90’s. Give it a listen HERE.

At any rate, it’s a fun word that will give you a stand-alone score of 19 points on a scrabble board. Keep that tucked away in your scrabble word locker.

Here’s a Haiku, then. I can think of a few famous tubthumpers…can you?

doomsayers tubthump,
Repent! The end is coming!
the end never comes


Mushyheaded – Friday’s Word of the Day


Today’s word of the day at is “mushyheaded”. You can probably guess it’s meaning: inadequately thought out: mushyheaded ideas; having vague, unsubstantiated, or unrealistic ideas or opinions. Mushyheaded (easily duped, stupid) is an Americanism dating back to the mid 19th century. It’s a portmandeau as well (a combination of two or more words to make one word) mushy-headed. The term mush-headed (a stupid person) was also used in the mid 19th century. For reference, “mush”, another Americanism from the late 17th century, is the name of a dish where cornmeal is boiled in water or milk until thick, eaten as a hot cereal, or molded and fried.

As you know, I like to google these words of the day to see what else I can find. One of the first things that came up was the German translation for the word mushy-headed: schwachköpfig. I love German. Their words are colorful and often so descriptive of the thing they are describing. Schwachköpfig sounds like a word one would say with disdain. The English translation for Schwachköpfig is: dunderheaded, soft-headed, weak-headed, dull-headed, crack-brained, feeble brained, lamebrained. But what I found even more entertaining was the list of German synonyms for the word, schwachköpf: Affe, Armleuchter, Armloch, Blödarsch, Blödian, Blödling, Blödmann, Blödmännchen, Blödsack, Brausebirne, Brot, Brummochse, Butterbirne, Bähschaf, Depp, Doofkopp, Doofmann, Dorfdepp, Dorfhupe, Dorftrottel, Dubbel, Dummbart, Dummbartel, Dummdübel, Dummerchen, Dummerjan, Dummian, Dummkopf, Dummlack, Dummschwätzer, Dumpfbacke, Dussel, Dusseltier, Döskopp, Dümmling, Eimer, Einfaltspinsel, Esel, Feldweg, Flachkopf, Flachpfeiffe, Flitschbirne, Gaskopf, Gehirnakrobat, Gehirnamputierter, Geistesgestörter, Geisteskranker, Grützkopf, Hampel, Hansnarr, Hanswurst, Heckenpenner, Hirnamputierter, Hirni, Hohlkopf, Holzkopf, Honk, Hornochse, Hornvieh, Idiot (Substantiv), Idiotenkind, Irrer, Kalb, Kalbskopf, Kamel, Kamuffel, Kauz, Kindskopf, Kirchenlicht, Kohlkopf, Kretin, Licht, Narr, Nichtskönner, Nichtswisser, Nulpe, Ochse, Pampel, Pfeife, Pfeifenkopf, Pflaume, Pfosten, Pinsel, Psycho, Psychopath, Pörre, Quadratesel, Rindvieh, Ross, Schaf, Schafskopf, Schafsnase, Schmalhirn, Schwachkopf, Schwachmat, Schwachsinniger, Schöps, Simpel, Spacken, Spacko, Spast, Spasti, Spaten, Spatzengehirn, Spatzenhirn, Stiesel, Strohkopf, Stümper, Tolpatsch, Tor, Torfkopp, Trantute, Trantüte, Tropf, Trottel, Tölpel, Verrückter, Vollhonk, Vollidiot, Vollpfosten, Vollspast, Volltrottel, Wahnsinniger, Blödi, Blödian, Blödlackl, Blödmann, Depp (Substantiv), Dummbeutel, Dummerchen, Dummerle, Dummkopf, Dödel, Hirni, Hohlkopf, Idiot, Monk, Pfosten, Schwachkopf, Spaten, Trottel,Depp, Dummkopf, Hohlkopf, Holzkopf, Schwachkopf, Torfkopf (Substantiv), Blödian, Blödmann, Dummerjan, Dummkopf, Dummrian, Dämel, Idiot. Aren’t they positively scrumptious?!

The other reference that floated to the top of Google’s list of things mushyheaded was a link to a site called Mushyhead Comics, an online comic book store developed by two self-described nerdy comic freaks whose aim is to “show other comic nerds the love and appreciation they deserve”. I didn’t realize that comic book nerds were so maligned. The things one can learn by practicing the habit of researching just one word a week! Of course I’m happy to have you along for the ride.

And there may have been a few memes and t-shirt vendors using the term mushyheaded in reference to a certain orange wanna-be dictator…but I’m in too good a mood to go there! 🙂

Have a great weekend! Here’s a haiku for you…:)

sometimes my mind drifts
but i’m not mushyheaded…
they’re calling for snow


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