Webster’s’ Illustrated Dictionary.

Published 1954.

470,000 words.

Page 98.

In between the word caitiff,

a coward,

and cajole,

to persuade with flattery,

is where the name Caitlin would fit in the grand scheme of things.

Word 470,001.

Caitlin, noun, derivative of Catherine.

Definition is: pure.


Yes, you heard it, pure.


I remember the first time I looked up the meaning of my name.

I was expecting something sophisticated, something mysterious, something that would give me some insight as to who I was when my parents carefully highlighted the seven letter sequence.


And I get stuck with pure.

My whole essence summed up in one syllable.


Did you know that the name Marissa means “of the sea”?

I’ve always been so jealous of people named Marissa because

who wouldn’t want a name that means “of the sea”?

That’s sophisticated,

that’s mysterious,

it has the insight I’d yearned for.

And that was the day I stopped thinking of myself in single syllable terms.

Now I think of myself in memories, in moments.


Webster’s Illustrated Dictionary.

Revised Edition.

Not published yet, but I promise you it’s in the works.

Page 98.

In between the word caitiff,

a coward,

and cajole,

to persuade with flattery,

you will find the name Caitlin.

Caitlin, noun derivative of Catherine.


Definition is the blue ink you find on your hand

after smoothing it over a page that you’ve been a slave to

for the last half an hour.

Definition is too much love

too much to give

too much of everything in too small a body;

I am eight inches under the average height for women

so I try to make my words immense to compensate.

Definition is yellow paint that’s been sitting on the windowsill

when it probably shouldn’t have been

but is still usable,

can still paint something remarkable.

Definition is cold hands shoved into fleece sweaters in the middle of December.

Definition is the sunrise, because you know it’s going to happen every day,

it’s a constant,

it’s not just going to leave you without warning,

I promise.

Definition is deserving to feel beautiful

even if I’m guilty of putting on eyeliner before school

and messing with filters on Instagram for seven minutes at a time

and wondering why it’s so difficult to lose weight.


I am still deserving.

And it took me a while to figure that out.

(It could be because deserving has three syllables but, I don’t think that’s why.)


All of these definitions and ,to tell you the truth

I still don’t really know who I am yet.


Seventeen is such an awkward age.

The in-between.


ABBA tells me this is the year I’m the dancing queen,

young and sweet, but

I use coverup to mask the circles under my eyes because I haven’t really been sleeping too well,

I’ve been thinking about my never-ending to-do list.

I have an essay for AP Lit and I have to study for my AP Psych

and tomorrow I should probably clean up my desk a little;

I have three empty mugs that I used for tea still sitting on there

and I keep forgetting to wash them out

I have so much to do.


And I don’t know.

I don’t know when you figure out who you are, or if you ever really do.


If it’s found in the whispers emanating from the mouth of a close friend,

or if it appears in some kind of Freudian dream,

or if one day you’re just sitting, gazing at the scenery, and it hits you.

The map in front of your face loses its invisibility and there is security.

There is safety.

There is home.


My name is Caitlin.

Webster’s Dictionary does not contain my name on page 98

or on any of the other 793 pages

but someday, I’ll get there.

Someday, the world will see me,

in more than just four letters.



This poem is about: 


Grant-Grey Porter Hawk Guda

Powerful expression! Keep sharing keep writing! 

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