Friday, 12 March 2010

Mizzle


Family connections in the Lake District mean that I know a ridiculous number of words for rain. It's rather like the fifty alleged eskimo words for snow. (For those of you who have never visited the Lake District, shovelling some mud into the bottom of the shower is a fair substitute). Indeed, I have identified a psychological condition called Lake District Affected Weather Disorder (LAWD), that allows people to say that it's not raining, it's drizzling; or that it's not drizzling, it's simply mizzling.

Mizzle is a fine word, because despite being dialect and obscure it's meaning is obvious to absolutely anybody. It means that it's half way between drizzle and mist, which by coincidence is precisely what it's doing in London now. There's also a slight suggestion of misery and snivel.

Mist also has the lovely linguistic property that it goes all the way back to Proto-Germanic *mikhstaz and then to Proto-Indo-European *migh from which the ancient Indians got the Sanskrit megha, meaning mist.

LAWD sufferers would start hanging the washing out to dry

2 comments:

  1. The Scots have a similar range words saved for a rainy-day - I think instead of mizzle they say smirr, or more generally dreich.

    My Scottish friend told me this, though she's the same one who claims the word rumstoogerous really exists [meaning cack-handed, clumsy, bull-at-a-gate]. Sadly I have never found any evidence of this apart from her absolutely adamant assertions.

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  2. My mother and grandmother often said "ya rumstoogerous lump" when I knocked something over or bumped into them.

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