Tag Archives: dictionary.com

Nimbus – Friday’s Word of the Day Haibun/Haiku


Today’s Word of the Day at Dictionary.com is Nimbus. Now, some of you may be familiar with its common link to a particular type of cloud formation; namely, Nimbostratus Clouds. They are those dark, low level clouds bursting at the seams with rain droplets, snow or sleet. I think they are my favorites because when they form the backdrop of a row of tall trees they transform the leaves into a luminous green.

First found recorded in the English language in 1730, Nimbus is linked to the Greek (nephos) “cloud” and Latin (nimbus and nebula), a meaning “cloud, mist”, and (nembh) “violent rainstorm, thundercloud”. The word, nimbus, is also linked to the Slavic (polish) word Niebo for “sky, heaven” which is probably why it was eventually applied to deities and gods. A nimbus in this application is defined at the bright cloud that envelops a deity appearing to mortals in classic mythology. In Christianity it refers to a saint’s halo or aureole.

If you’re a Trekkie, you will know that Nimbus III is located in the Neutral Zone in the Beta Quadrant in the Nimbus sector at the junction between the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire. Or at least it was until they moved it to sit very near Romulus system, and far from the Klingon border. You can read more about that HERE.

These days we still use nimbus to describe a cloud, aura or the atmosphere around someone, if we even use it at all. According to the Collin’s Dictionary, nimbus is in the lower 50% of commonly used words. Nimbus is not a word that I’ll likely use.

Which brings me to the word nimble…which has nothing to do with nimbus. They’re not even closely related in etymological terms. But nimble is the new buzz word in business circles. Must be agile and nimble and identify synergies because at the end of the day, the bottom line means balancing our EBITDA to making our shareholders happy and richer at the end of each quarter. This is what happens when I’ve worked another long crazy week and it’s Friday and I have to come in on the weekend because other people didn’t do their work on time. GRRRRrrrrr!

But I digress. Breathe Kathy…let the nimbus of grace and peace surround you. Write a few Haiku. You’ll feel better…you know you will.  Ahhhh…ohhhmmmm…ahhhh…:)

Actually I do feel a bit better. Here are a few haiku for you. Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

dull, entranced faces
aglow in pale blue nimbus
where’s the pokemon?

insanity looms
a suffocating nimbus
there is no normal

if you are there god
come out from the nimbus mist
we need a hero

when the sun is right
she appears as an angel
a nimbus of light


Ballon -Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at Dictionary.com is a French word: “ballon”. At first I wondered if it was a typo. “Shouldn’t that be ‘balloon’?” I thought. And then I looked at the definition and especially the origin of the word. It all began to make sense. From dictionary.com:

Origin of ballon
Ballon is a French term used especially in ballet, describing a dancer who appears to be floating in the air while executing a jump or other movement, like “His Airness,” Michael Jordan. Earlier English spellings of the word include balonne, baloune, and balloone as well as balloon. The original sense of the word in the early 17th century was “ball,” specifically a large, sturdy, inflated leather ball hit with the arms protected with wooden boards or kicked like a soccerball. By the late 17th century ballon and balloon had developed the meaning “a large globular glass vessel” used for chemical distillation; and by the late 18th century, balloon (thus spelled) also meant “a round, flexible, airtight bag that rises into the air when inflated with heated air or gas.” Balloon becomes the standard English spelling in the late 17th century. Ballon, as a ballet term, entered English in the 19th century.

So, ballon in ballet is about floating on air, and balloons? Well they are floaty orbs, unless they’re filled with water or made of glass. I got the impression that the original balloon was more about its shape than its floating qualities. And then I started to think of round, inflated ballerinas bursting at the seams of their leotards, tutus stretched tight and stiff around their middles, and I couldn’t help but giggle.

Which came first the ballon or the balloon? The latter, of course. Ballon, in ballet, entered the English vocabulary rather late to the dance in the 19th century. We humans had been filling animal bladders and other hollow bulbous things for centuries.

Somewhere between heaven and earth the idea of floating on air became associated with balloons and voila! We now have ballon to help us describe the amazing acrobatic, gravity-defying leaps of ballerinas. Being inflated and puffy not required!

I’m feeling silly today. I best give you my Haiku. Have a great weekend!

suspended, graceful,
the skilled ballon of dancers
defies gravity


Al Desko – Friday’s Word of the Day Haibun

al desko

Today’s Dictionary.com word of the day…Al Desko…is patterned after al fresco and was first used in the 1980’s. Its facetious meaning alludes to eating a meal at one’s desk in an office: always snacking al desko; having an al desko lunch.


Here’s a look at my al desko lunch today, as a matter of fact. It’s not much different any other week day, though the menu changes slightly. I get 30 minutes of unpaid time for lunch. But most days, the lunch hour is exactly the time when my boss needs me to write notes from the morning’s meetings or prepare presentations for the afternoon meetings. It is a rare thing for me to even leave me desk in the course of an 8-1/2 to 9 hour day; rarer still to actually finish my soup while it is still warm. But today is a good day. The boss is flying as I type somewhere over the Rockies, so I am enjoying an uninterrupted break.

We are work-a-holics here in the US. The sad truth is we are encouraged to work long hours, and do, with the hopes of gaining the boss’s attention. Positive notice is what it takes to ace an evaluation which translates into a favorable raise, not the minimum pittance required for breathing, and positions one for future opportunities as a person who “works hard and gets the job done”. Sadly, though loyalty is a thing oft cited in great reviews, companies are loath to return the favor.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And yet I acquiesce to”the man” hoping that I might one day be able to afford to retire. It is highly unlikely that I ever will, but I like saying the word retire and thinking that I might have a shot at it. Especially now that I’ve passed the 60’s mark.

I’m sorry. I’m afraid I have digressed a bit. The word of the day al desko has nothing to do with retiring. But here I sit, eating my healthy store-bought soup, heated in the office breakroom, with my little bag of goldfish and a cup of ice water. Dining al desko, catching up on Facebook and WordPress. Checking the news and the weather; glad that I brought my umbrella in from my car this morning. It’s going to rain this afternoon.

I’ll leave this desk around 5:30 or so, squinting as I emerge from the building at seeing the light of day outside for the first time in hours. A quick 15-20 minute trip in traffic will deposit me home where I will feed my pets, grab a bit of grub myself and then settle in for the night. All to start again at 6 am next morning when I will get up…feed the pets…and pack another al desko lunch to tide me over mid-day.

I’m shaking my head as I read this back to myself. I really do need to step away from my desk at least once during the day. It occurs to me…I need a life! 😉 At least I have words and writing to sooth the lunacy. Blogging has saved me. 🙂

Have a great week. Step away from the keyboard every now and again. You deserve it. (I say this, hoping that I’ll remember to take my own advice!)

work-a-holics dine
on bagged lunches and take-out
al desko gourmets


Cacoepy Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

Happy Friday! Today’s Dictionary.com Word of the Day is “cacoepy” [kuh-koh-uh-pee]. I had never heard this word before, but I have definitely heard more than a few cacoepies in my life.

They are like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard to those of us who take words, vocabulary and language seriously. They can also be amusing and goofy. Context is key. Cacoepy is defined as an “incorrect pronunciation or an instance of this; mispronunciation.

Dictionary.com had a lengthy etymology summary:

“Cacoepy comes from Greek kakoépeia “mispronunciation, incorrect language,” made up of the adjective kakós “bad, evil, worthless, ugly” and the noun épos (also dialect wépos) “word, speech, song.” The adjective comes from baby talk or a nursery word widespread in Indo-European languages, kakka- “to defecate, poop, shit.” The root appears in Latin cacāre (Italian cacare, Spanish cagar), Slavic (Polish) kakać, German kacken, and English cuck(ing stool). The Greek noun épos (wépos) comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wekw-, wokw- “to speak,” source of Latin vox “voice,” whose stem vōc- forms the verb vōcāre “to call.” Cacoepy entered English in the 19th century.”

I decided to Google mispronounced words. There are plenty. You may have heard them. You may have even used a few. Here’s a sampling:

expecially, pecific, expresso (coffee), nucular, irregardless, libary, miniture, orientate, perogative, prespire, probly, sherbert, supposably, upmost

I find it hard to take anyone who is fluent in cacoepies seriously. Usually I smile politely while they fracture the English language, biting my tongue to keep myself from correcting them.

You say potatoe and I say pototoe. Does it matter? Well, some linguists believe this is a natural evolution of words. It’s how language is refined and developed. While others, the purists, believe we should strive for proper diction and pronunciation, maintaining the integrity of the language.

For the fun of it though I’ll leave you with a few silly, goofy cacoepies. You may be familiar with these misinterpreted song lyrics. The question is, do you know the actual lyrics?

Here we go! Come on, sing along. You know the words! Maybe! 😜

“This is the dawning of the Age of Asparugus, Asparugus” – Aquarius – Fifth Dimension

“Ah, ah, ah, ah, Sayin a lie, Sayin a lie” – Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees

“She’s mighty mighty, built like a mastodon” – Brick House – Commodores

“Let’s drink to assaulting the Earth” – Salt of the Earth – Judy Collins

“Oprah got no style!” – Gangnam Style – Psy

“Looks like we mated” – You’re Still the One – Shania Twain

“Joy to the visions that the people see” – Joy to the World – Three Dog Night

“Sweet dreams are made of cheese” – Sweet Dreams – The Eurythmics

“Or should I just keep chasing penguins” – Chasing Pavements – Adele

“All the lonely Starbucks lovers” – Blank Space – Taylor Swift

“Then I saw her face, now I’m gonna leave her” – I’m a Believer – The Monkees

“Kicking your cat all over the place” – We Will Rock You – Queen

“Got some electric boobs and a mohawk, too ” – Bennie and the Jets – Elton John

So there you have it. Our word of the day, cacoepy. I do like the way this word sounds. (I included the pronunciation above.😉) Here’s my Haiku then. Have a great weekend!

pecific leaders
with axes to nucular codes
cannot be trusted

cacoapies? …please!
when enunciated well
language is an art


Expostulate – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku


Today’s Dictionary.com Word of the Day is Expostulate. It means “to reason earnestly with someone against something that person intends to do or has done; remonstrate: His father expostulated with him about the evils of gambling.” 

The Etymology Dictionary tells us this about the origin of this word:

“1530s, “to demand, to claim,” from Latin expostulatus, past participle of expostulare “to demand urgently, remonstrate, find fault, dispute, complain of, demand the reason (for someone’s conduct),” from ex- “from” (see ex-) + postulare “to demand” (see postulate (v.)). Friendlier sense of “to reason earnestly (with someone) against a course of action, etc.” is first recorded in English 1570s. Related: Expostulated; expostulating.”

I did find a reference to the word as featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”:  “The circle closed up again with a running murmur of expostulation.” It seems that “The Great Gatsby’s” rich vocabulary has become the source of many vocabulary studies. You can find expostulation as well as many other wonderful words on vocabulary “flash cards” online. Of course there are a few other mentions of the word used in other literature, but it does not seem to have any surprising history attached to it.

That being said, I must say that there has been quite a bit of expostulating going on in recent times…and the divide grows deeper and wider.

Here’s my haiku for today’s word. Have a great weekend!

expostulators may rant
for naught, to closed minds


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