Monday, January 6, 2014

Word of the Week - Blizzard

The Blizzard by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1860

Given the awful winter weather striking so much of the country this year, this seemed like an appropriate word for the day. =) Though one I can't take credit for coming up with--one of my fellow Colonial Writers, the amazingly-talented Lori Benton, posted to our group about this one. I otherwise wouldn't have thought to question it!

But apparently blizzard is a pretty new word. Though occasionally used for a "a hail of gunfire" as early as 1829, it didn't take on the snowstorm meaning until--get this--1859. It most likely came from blizz, a word for a violent rainstorm that dates to 1770. Etymologists suspect that its origin is America's Upper Midwest, where locals probably took the word used for the rainstorm and applied it to the snowstorm just to be cheeky. ;-) (Okay, so they technically say "in a colloquialism." But we all know what they mean.)

So what in the world did they call blizzards before blizzard was a word?? That's the question Lori asked, and I'm not sure we really found the best answer. "Violent blow" seems to be the closest, but it doesn't feel sufficient to me. Guess that's why those Upper Midwesterners found a better word for it. =)

Hope everybody stays warm this week! And if you're stuck inside, be sure to swing by again tomorrow. I'm hosting a good friend of mine (from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so a girl who knows all about the cold and blizzards, LOL) in an interview and giveaway of her just-released historical romance, The Wyoming Heir. And on Wednesday, I'm taking everyone on a step-by-step journey through the last book cover I designed for WhiteFire. That should be fun too. =) See you tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Yup. Definitely surprised it's that recent - but NOT that it originates in the upper Midwest. :) Totally intrigued by Wednesdays post topic - I'll be back! :)

    ReplyDelete