Tag Archives: word of the day

Cordillera – Friday’s Word of the Day

Today’s word of the day at dictionary.com 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


Sith – Friday’s Word of the Day

May the Fourth be with You! Friday’s Word of the Day at Dictionary.com is sith, and if you’re a nerd it means something entirely different to you that its archaic (dictionary’s word, not mine) definition. It’s an adverb that means “since”. Dictionary says sith (obsolete), originated before 950; Middle English; Old English siththa, dialectal variant of siththan, orig., sīth thām after that, subsequently to that, equivalent to sīth subsequently (akin to Gothic seithus, Old Norse sīth- late, German seit since) + thām, dative of demonstrative pronoun, i.e., “to that”; compare Old Norse sīthan sith.

But the word in today’s vocabulary has gained popularity as a reference to dark forces from the Star Wars sagas. Wikipedia gives a good background for the modern word sith, implying that the word originated in 1976, which lends additional credence to the “obsolete” nature of the original word that is said to have fallen from usage in the 16th Century.

For those of you who are not Star Wars enthusiasts, here is a snippet from Wikipedia: The Sith originated in a species of Force-sensitive warriors who discovered the efficacy of passion as a tool to draw on the Force approximately 6,000 years prior to the events of the first Star Wars film. Fully embracing this approach, they became defined and corrupted by it.

The Sith are major antagonists in the space opera franchise Star Wars. They are depicted as an ancient monastic and kraterocratic organization of supernaturally gifted warriors driven by an agenda of galactic domination and revenge against their predecessors, the Jedi.

Darth Sidious

There are several theories regarding how George Lucas came to call this evil side of the force, the Sith. Some believe it is a combination of names Darth and Sidious, for the Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. Others believe it was chosen for its snakelike sound, Siithththth. But it is clear that no reference was ever made to the original word sith.

On that note, back to our word of the day and its former use. Here are a few examples:

They said it was a great matter, sith I had risked mine own life.” Emily Sarah Holt, Clare Avery

“Sith Alwyn vails of himself, it is thine, by might and by right.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Last Of The Barons, Complete

“Why, I reckon it cannot be over nine days sith thine were writ.” Emily Sarah Holt, Joyce Morrell’s Harvest

“Here’s twentye groates of white moneye, Sith thou will have it of mee.” Various Authors, A Book of Ballads, Volume 3

So there you have it. Sith, an obsolete, resurrected word that is now the stuff of legends. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” A sith once meant since, and is now the name for dark forces that resulted from a passion for power run amuck!

I’m afraid today’s Haiku is a jumble. But here it is!

sith it is the fourth
a day we honor the force
not for Sith…Jedi


Treen – Friday’s Word of the Day


Happy Friday! Today’s Word of the Day at Dictionary.com 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 dictionary.com is neatnik. Neatnik is a slang word that means a person  who  is extremely  neat about surroundings,  appearance, etc. It originated, according to dictionary.com, 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


Mushyheaded – Friday’s Word of the Day


Today’s word of the day at dictionary.com 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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