X is for what?

Ah, we have known this day was coming.  I have dreaded it since I signed up for the blog challenge nearly two months ago.  Some of you have commented on the looming last three letters of the alphabet.  And now it is here.

It is X day.

In my old Webster’s dictionary, there are only ten entries for words that begin with X and one of them is the description of the letter itself as the twenty-fourth letter of the alphabet.  The others include the Roman numeral X which we all know stands for ten; Xavier as in Saint Xavier who was a missionary to Asia from Spain in the sixteen hundreds; xebec which is a small ship with three masts; Xerxes who was a king in Persia about 500 years before Christ; Xenophon – a Greek general and recorder of history about 400 years before Christ; X-ray – no need to explain; X-mas or the abbreviation for Christmas which Ms. Bishop never let us use in elementary school; xylem – the woody tissue of a plant; and xylophone the musical instrument.

Does anything stand out for you in that list?  No?  Me neither.

So I thought about it and really looked around for inspiration.  I’ve decided that ‘x’ is underrated.  It is pretty heavily represented in all of our lives on a daily basis.  We solve for ‘x’ in mathematical equations and use an ‘x’ to represent multiplication.  Math just couldn’t exist without it.

We sign documents at the ‘x’.  I must say that dozens of times each day to customers signing for important items.   It represents crossings on road signs and is often thrown into a message with ‘o’ at the end of the note; signed with xxoo; meaning hugs and kisses.

It can mean ‘to copy’ as in xerox.

It stands for the entire generation of people born after the baby boomers – those years between 1961 and 1981 – including myself.  We call them Generation X.

X-rated means much sex and nudity.  Double and triple X means you will not want anyone to see you watching it.

I particularly liked a television show that aired in the eighties and nineties called ‘Xena – Warrior Princess.’  It was about a strong female leader in the era of Hercules and time of the Greek gods interfering with mankind.  Lucy Lawless played the lead of Xena and kicked but wherever she went.

And there are two other words that I could add to the list of those beginning with x:  xylitol – a sweetener; and xanthous – a shade of yellow akin to the yolk of an egg.

But those things didn’t excite me either.

What would it take?

Then it hit me.

Olivia Newton John sang about it, a play was written for broadway by its name and poems have been penned about it.  Its very name has come to stand for opulence, abundance and splendor.  How could I not be inspired by it?


And it once existed as the summer capital for Kubla Khan in China.  Marco Polo, the explorer from Venice, described it in 1278.  But it is the poem by English Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge that most of us identify as Xanadu.  In the late 1700’s he had a dream where he is supposed to have wandered through Xanadu, seeing the supreme walled city for himself.  It doesn’t really matter that he was under the influence of opium – the drug not the fragrance – at the time.  It’s a darn fine poem.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

“So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.


  1. Xylophone. That’s what was immediately in my mind from the start.
    Then Xmas is a perfectly good word with a venerable history, Ms. Bishop notwithstanding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmas – Scroll down to The Use of “X” for Christ
    My father taught me that, a stained glass artist/maker his entire life and a student of Christian symbolism.

    I do like Xena and Xanadu.

  2. Nothing really popped in my mind when I thought about your X-entry, but once again, you’ve done a fine job! And John’s just being naughty! We need to give his comment an x-rating. 😉

  3. Renee, For me this one is your one of the best entry to this challenge month. So thoughtful with so much information embedded in it. Great work. I hope it must took lots of time to create such a thoughtful post.

  4. Xtremely great job with the “X”. You did pick the perfect word, but I have to thank you for putting Xena in the mix. I loved watching her kick butt and it was the first thing that came to my mind. I have to wonder if there is a link between Lucy Lawless and Olivia Newton John that their lives were so involved with these strong “X” words. Just thinking out loud. 😉

  5. I was wondering how you would spin X. I don’t know why it surprised me that you found a poem that includes the X. Good post!

  6. Excellent post! You did a terrific job with that dreaded letter. I agree with Xanadu and thanks for putting that in. I must have watched that movie a bazillion times as a kid! Brings back great memories 🙂

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