According to the Scottish National Dictionary, the yule-hole is the hole you have to move your belt to after eating a large meal at Christmastime.
If an autumn leaf is marcescent, it withers and dies but remains attached to its tree throughout the winter months.
The act of knocking clumps of snow off your shoes when you come home on a winter’s day is called degombling – a term invented by Antarctic scientists, who also coined the word greenout to refer to the relief felt on seeing greenery after a long time spent in wintry conditions.
These wonderfully obscure and intriguing words – and over 300 more like them – are collected together in A Winter Dictionary, a beautiful new collection by Paul Anthony Jones, the language writer and blogger behind the enormously popular Haggard Hawks website and Twitter feed.
Divided among a dozen themed chapters – covering everything from the changing of the seasons to Christmas week, winter weather, the New Year, and the leadup the spring – the words assembled here cover more than 500 years of the English language, and have been assembled from a unique and fascinating set of sources, from Victorian dialect dictionaries to Elizabethan poetry and even contemporary scientific literature. So if you’ve ever needed a word for a ball of snow made larger by rolling it through a snowfield (a hodmadod) or the length of time by which each day appears to get longer after the new year (a cockstride) then look no further!
An ideal Christmas gift for language-lovers, A Winter Dictionary will make a fascinating, engrossing, and endlessly useful addition to any seasonal bookshelf.
Paul Anthony Jones was born in South Shields in 1983. Graduating with a Masters degree in English from the University of Newcastle in 2009, his first book The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer (2012) was inspired by a university study into the origins of English place names. This was quickly followed by two guides to English etymology, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons (2013) – named as one of best language titles of the year by The Guardian – and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire (2014). Paul also runs the popular tie-in Twitter account, @HaggardHawks, which ha...
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