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Tag Archives: haiku

online diversions are the opiates of the masses

Arguably, the most pleasurable aspect of teaching SAT prep classes was defining random arcane words for speakers of English as a foreign language.

(Side note: We are now, according to the Dictionary of Political Correctness, no longer ESL teachers, but rather EFL teachers. Why? Because, of course, it’s presumptuous to assume English is #2, when it could just as easily be #5, given that there are countries that aren’t as utterly useless as the good ol’ US of A is on the topic of language¬†acquisition. Needless distinction, you say? Blasphemy! We are winning the war of preservation of delicate feelings (the Tepid War, perhaps?), and we won’t stop until every wall in every building in every corner of the globe has been padded! Ahem. Returning to the topic at hand.)

This particular activity may sound hellish to some (though surely not to the elite readers of this blog), but it’s redeemed for me by the fact that I really like words. And I really like talking. And I really like attentive audiences. I love telling blushing high schoolers that the trick to remembering the definition for “disseminate” is to think of semen, and I love even more that they never forget. It’s not the world’s worst gig.

I’m always on the lookout for new and better ways to say things, and, now that you’ve seen the ways I occupy myself, you’ll concur that this may well be due to the fact that the only way to make my life sound remotely interesting is by inserting titillating synonyms into my descriptions of rather mundane happenings. With this in mind, and to ensure that there’s at least one pleasant email in my inbox each morning, I subscribe to Wordsmith’s A Word A Day (AWAD) mailing. Aside from my two major complaints about the newsletter (1. words are frequently too easy, and 2. there are trickles of Islamophobia on occasion, and emails pointing said Islamophobia out are deleted without response), I generally enjoy it.

And, from time to time (ah, now she’s getting to the point), they host silly contests that I like to enter. This week, the task was to write haikus (5+7+5= 17 syllables) defining each of the week’s 17-letter words to celebrate Wordsmith’s 17th anniversary. (Yes, I said it was silly.) For the bored and the curious, here are my entries. And if you want to enter, there’s still time; you have til the end of the day.


Predestinarianism: (noun) Belief in the doctrine of predestination, that the divine will has predetermined the course of events, people’s fate, etc.

Que sera sera.
Fling your best-laid plans aside;
all books end, The End.

Triskaidekaphobia: (noun) Fear of the number 13.

Goddamn the baker
who takes a flawless value
and makes a monster.

Contradistinguish: (verb tr.) To distinguish (one thing from another) by contrasting qualities.

The twins looked the same;
I could only remember
by counting their toes.

Laryngopharyngeal: (adjective) Of or relating to the larynx (the part of the throat holding the vocal cords) and pharynx (the part of the throat that leads from the mouth to the esophagus).

In some, bee stings cause
this type of fatal swelling.
My Girl made me cry.

Perspicaciousness: (noun) Keenness of perception and discernment.

Discernment, they said,
is a pre-req for this job.
I sniffed and said “spoiled.”


Lastly, shame on WordPress for registering all of those words except for perspicaciousness as misspelled.

And, now that I’ve written that, I can further add: shame on WordPress for thinking its own name is misspelled!

For that matter (just scanned the above text once more), “Islamophobia” is also underscored with an angry squiggly red line; and while I appreciate the sentiment behind that, denialism never got us anywhere.

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