Tag Archives: dictionary.com

Moribund – Friday’s Word of the Day

It’s Friday the 13th! I missed last week’s word of the day post…technical difficulties. But I’m back this week with a word from Dictionary.com that is quite apropos for this bleak rainy (at least in my corner of the world) Friday…Moribund.

It originated in Latin from the adjective moribundus as well as 16th Century French moribond both which mean about to die, dying and is a derivative of the Latin root mer- (to die). We picked up this word in the English language in the 18th century and carried over its meaning as both an adjective and a noun. As an adjective it means: in a dying state; near death; on the verge of extinction or termination; not progressing or advancing; stagnant: a moribund political party for example. And as a noun: a person who is dying. 

Several heavy metal bands have incorporated this word into their names, record titles or songs. For example, Moribund Oblivion, a Turkish black metal band from Istanbul, Moribund (album), a 2006 album by the Norwegian black metal band Koldbrann, “Moribund the Burgermeister“, a 1977 song by British progressive rock musician Peter Gabriel, and Moribund Records, a heavy metal record label.

This term is also used in medical circles, as one might expect, referring to end of life symptoms, characteristics and stages: ‘on examination she was moribund and dehydrated”.

And of course one can also find it coined in political commentary and all manner things that are near death, fading, or not thriving: “But that market has been moribund, to say the least.” “Blowhard politicians trumpeted moral outrage to gratify moribund anti-communists.” Or “Prices in Japan are falling, so moribund is the economy.”

I can’t believe I haven’t come across this scrumptious word until now. But thanks to this little weekly exercise I have one more word in my toolbox. Moribund. It has such a smooth poetic sound, don’t you think? And I expect it will be quite useful when I’m in a melancholy mood.

Here are a few Haiku/Senryu then. Have a great weekend!

treetops of crimson
moribund leaves once verdant
on the wind take flight

it’s over you know
this moribund ruse of ours
it was never love

tempests and earthquakes,
the moribund harbingers
of an earth dying


Lonely-Hearts – Friday’s Word of the Day


Today’s Word of the Day on dictionary.com is lonely-hearts. It is defined as: of or for people seeking counseling or companionship to bring love or romance into their lives: a lonely-hearts column in the newspaper or in more modern terms, online dating sites. Dictionary.com also explains the origin of lonely-hearts as:

The noun lonely heart in the sense “a lonely or friendless person” and the adjective lonely-hearts, referring especially to a column or feature in a newspaper feature entered English nearly simultaneously. The terms are probably most closely associated with the novel Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West (1903-40). The noun lonely heart entered English in 1932; the adjective lonely-hearts entered English in 1933.

I was intrigued by the reference to Nathanael West’s novel Miss Lonelyhearts. “Miss” Lonelyhearts was actually an anonymous male journalist who wrote an advice column for a New York newspaper during the Depression. Not only was Lonelyheart considered something of a joke by the newspaper staffers, but he allegedly fell into a deep depression, burdened by the desperate letters from his readers. This led Lonelyheart on a downward spiral of heavy drinking and bar brawls and a few affairs, the last of which would lead to his ironic demise. Despite all this he tried desperately to escape the pain of the letters, traveling to the countryside with his fiance and by turning to religion. It was only after he had a religious epiphany that he met his end at the hands of the husband of his latest mistress. This black comedy, as it was described, weaves elements of Marxist ideology, religion, the sad state of a valueless world and the cynicism of a “machine” that mass produces empty solutions to systemic problems of society.

It’s easy to see, from this best-selling book of the 1930’s, how “lonely-hearts” became an adjective. And despite the lessons of the book, it is interesting to note that we still seek advice from sterile advice columns. We read daily horoscopes hoping for direction or affirmation of what we already know or hope for. We seek entertainment to escape the reality of our lives. And we seek love by scanning fabricated personal profiles on online dating sites. But it all falls flat, because we do these things anonymously, without having to bare our heart and soul. It is no wonder we are forever searching for answers, because the answers we seek, answers that truly make a difference, need to be personal, not mass-tabloid, bottom of the birdcage-lining rags. Poor Lonelyheart. I get the sense from reading a summary of the book, that he finally finds his answers through a spiritual awakening. But he meets his end, all the same, at the hands of an enraged man who fails to see his change of heart for what it is. I think that is the greatest tragedy of all.

How often do we hear it said that someone can feel lonely even in a room full of people. Modern technology, instant gratification, social media, texting, tweeting, all keep us disconnected and detached from each other.

But there are moments. Eye contact and smiles from strangers that stop you in your tracks and ignite a spark in your heart. That moment’s connection can change you. I live for those moments. We all do. And the best thing about recognizing this is that we can be this moment for another person. Being, not receiving, can change us too. Make eye contact…smile. It will change your life.

Well! I certainly didn’t see all that coming. It’s amazing what can come of ruminating over a simple word of the day. Lonely-heart. Here’s a Haiku to wrap things up.

lonely-hearts flutter
to pipe-dreams on inked pages
like moths to a flame


Deciduous – Friday’s Word of the Day

Happy Autumn! Today’s very timely Word of the Day at Dictionary.com is Deciduous. It is defined as: shedding the leaves annually, as certain trees and shrubs; falling off or shed at a particular  season, stage of growth, etc., as leaves, horns, or teeth; not permanent; transitory.

Dictionary.com gives a nice history of the word:
The English adjective deciduous is straight from Latin, dēciduus  “falling off or down,  tending to fall off or down,”  formed from  the  preposition  (and prefix “down,  from”) and the verb, cadere (combining form –cidere “to fall”).  In Latin dēciduus is used for leaves  (dēcidua folia), (baby) teeth (dēciduτ dentēs), descending testicles ( testēs dēciduτ), and, charmingly, for shooting stars or falling stars (dēcidua sidera). Deciduous entered English in the 17th century.

My google search led me to the fascinating world of desiduous trees. In the process I learned a few new words and a bit more about the seasonal process of abscission (the dropping of leaves).

In fact, some of those the brilliant fall colors are dormant in the leaves. It is the surge of chlorophyll in the warmth of summer or the wetness of rainy seasons that give leaves their green color. As the days cool and the sun wanes, or when the trees are drought-stressed, less chlorophyll is produced allowing the leaf’s other colors to be revealed. Yellows, oranges and browns are called carotenoids. The reds and purples, are produced by Anthocyanin pigments and are the result of sugars produced and trapped in the leaves later in the summer after the abscission process begins.

An abscission layer is formed in the spring that allows the leaf to eventually fall away from the stem. It is held together by a hormone produced by the leaf called auxin. Auxin production is also sensitive to climate changes and dry seasons, and eventually slows in production allowing the abscission layer to elongate and the leaf to fall away. Amazingly it also forms a seal, so the tree does not lose sap.

Deciduous trees lose their foliage to conserve water and better survive the harshness of winter. There are some trees that are partially deciduous. Meaning they do not lose all their leaves. This is called marcsescence. There are several benefits to retaining dead leaves. One may be to deter large animals like deer and elk from eating their limbs and twigs where springs buds lie dormant. It may also help certain trees with water retention and protection against the elements.

Eventually even marcescent leaves fall, making way for the blooming buds of spring. But not the leaves. Not yet. There is a very good reason for this. The absence of leaves allows insects to see the blooms more easily, which assists with pollination. It also allows seeds and pollen to flow more freely on the warm spring breezes. And the cycle continues!

Isn’t that amazing?! I never knew these details. If not for today’s word of the day, I might never have known how intricately planned out the life of a tree is. I hope I didn’t bore you with my rambling. I just love learning new things!

I guess I better get to my little Haiku then. Have a great weekend. Go hug a tree! ❤️🌳❤️🌳

poor marcescent tree
partially deciduous
clinging is futile


Septenary – Friday’s Word of the Day Haibun


Today’s Word of the Day at dictionary.com is Septenary. If you are familiar with Latin roots you may deduce that this word is linked to the number 7, and you would be correct. In fact, septenary is an adjective that means all things seven: relating to the number seven or forming a group of seven; a period of seven years; the number 7. Here is Dictionary.com’s bit on its etymology:

In Latin, the adjective septēnārius “consisting of seven,” a derivative of septem “seven,” has limited use: numerus septēnārius means “the number seven.” Its “least uncommon” usage is versus septēnārius “seven-part verse, septenarius,” for a verse form in Latin comedy. In English septenary is of limited use as well: it has been applied to the seven sacraments of the Christian church, the seven days of the week, and, in music, the seven notes of the diatonic scale. Septenary entered English in the 16th century.

Apparently, we humans love this optimus prime number (no, I’m not talking about the Transformer). We love seven so much that we have applied it over the centuries in every manner possible, from mathematics to religion to modern culture. Even the universe has accommodated our obsession!

So, let’s get to it. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If I attempted that it would be exhausting. I’ll start with numerology…because, I’m thinking out loud here, I just might be a “7”, which is okay with me. We can’t all be 10’s… 😉

The number 7 is the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital “T”). The 7 doesn’t take anything at face value — it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions.

Being the seeker that I am, here we go…there are:

  • seven colors in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
  • seven wonders of the ancient world (Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria)
  • seven classical planets or luminaries (which means visible to the naked eye from earth: Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn)
  • in Old Testament/Judaism: seven days to create the world, seven vengeances suffered by Cain for killing his brother, Seven pairs of clean animals – the number Noah was commanded to load into the ark (I have a question though…how did we get pigs over unicorns?), seven blessings (at weddings), seven year cycles around the Year of Jubilee, seven days to the feast of Passover, the Menorah – a seven-branched candelabrum, seven candles or orifices of the face (think about it…2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, and the mouth), seven things that are detestable to the Lord according to Proverbs 6:16-19: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community…hmmm, thinking out loud here…on second thought, let’s move on…
  • in New Testament Christianity: seven deadly sins, seven virtues, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven sacraments, seven sorrows, seven joys, seven heavens, seven seals (from the book of Revelation, not the mammal kind, though wouldn’t that be an interesting twist?), seventy time seven (you know the drill)…there are more…
  • in Islam: seven heavens, seven hells, seven layers of the Earth, seven big sins or vices, seven doors to hell (heaven has eight), seven circumambulations (counterclockwise circling) as part of Tawaf rituals, seven Ayat (signs or “remarkable events”)
  • in Taoism: 7 Colors and the 7th Element is Qi
  • in Hinduism, the term Sanskrit literally means seven, and there are: seven octats in music (sa re ga ma pa dha ni), 7 chakras, Seven Promises [Saptapadi], Seven Rounds in Hindu Wedding and Seven Reincarnation, Seven Matrka (mothers or matriarchs)
  • in Bahá’i teaching: Seven Valleys – Search, Love, Knowledge, Unity, Contentment, Wonderment and Poverty and Absolute Nothingness
  • in Mythology: Seven Lucky Gods (Japanese), seven archangels (several cultures), and seven blunders, according to Ghandi, that cause violence
  • seven stars in the Big Dipper
  • seven cervical vertebrae in almost all mammals
  • in Physics: seven basic physical properties: metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela
  • Seven continents, seven seas, a handful a seven hills scattered around the world, seven sages, wise masters, kings and or emperors (according to various cultures)
  • in modern Pop Culture: Seven Dwarfs, 007, 7- Eleven, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Seven Year Itch, Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Seven Days in May, Seven Years in Tibet, The Magnificent Seven…indeed!
  • in Literature: 7 Ages of Man (Shakespeare), seven books in the Harry Potter series (Rowling): seven players in the game of Quidditch, seven horcruxes (objects containing parts of Voldemort’s soul), Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey), Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Lawrence)…and there are more…too numerous to mention,
  • in Mathematics, Seven is associated with all sorts of interesting terminology: Seven is the first integer reciprocal (multiplicative inverse), seven frieze groups, seven fundamental types of catastrophes, vulgar fractions with 7 in the denominator, 7 is the lowest dimension of a known exotic sphere
  • seven metals of antiquity: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury

Seven this and seven that. We love the number seven and all things septenary. One might even say we are obsessed with seven. As for me, though I’ve always gravitated toward the number 3 or 5 when asked to name a favorite number, I’m adding 7 to the top of my list. As the most often cited favorite number according to polls, I am in good company.

And…if you’ve read this far, you’ve given me enough of your precious time on this first Friday of September. The seventh card in the Tarot deck is The Chariot…which indicates a need to move forward…so without further ado…here’s a quick Haiku! Have a great weekend!

consider seven
septenary perfection
so optimus prime



Today’s Word of the Day at dictionary.com is incogitant. Not to be confused with incognizant or incognito, which google presented as possibilities. Incognitant is definitely a word, originating in the 17th century, though it does seem to be less popular than its cousins.

All three words have a common root, the Latin cōgitāre “to think” and the Latin negative prefix in-. it is when we add the suffix -ant “inclined to, tending to” that tweaks the meaning. Incogitant is defined as thoughtless; inconsiderate; not having the faculty of thought. While incognizant implies a sense of being unaware of something or unknowing, it is more in a passive or clueless sort of way, and incognito has to do with disguised identity, incogitant, with its tiny change in suffix -tant involves an element of willfulness. In fact, wiktionary simply defines incogitant as ignorant.

These days the streets are swarming with incogitant people. People who are not the least bit interested in knowing the truth, and worst of all, those who act on that ignorance to an extreme. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s just me. 🤔

Anyhoo…before I close this wordplay, I found one other reference while researching today’s word. A shout out to French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes’ (1596–1650) who coined the famous line, “cōgitō ergō sum” (“I think therefore I am”). Does that mean if I don’t think, I am not? Best to leave that one alone…along with the incogitant people of the world, unless of course, you engage them while incognito…just to be safe. My guess is they are incognizant that they are incogitant, precisely because they don’t care that they are either!

Here are a few Haiku then. Reminds me of another quote…”Never have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.” 😊 okay…I’m done now. Have a great weekend!

“Let them eat brioche!”
an incogitant retort
spoken from privilege

Covfefe…say what?
Incogitant tweet perhaps,
or sly like a fox?


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