Blown away

It’s extremely windy here today, which has got me thinking about the names given to particular winds in different parts of the world. My favourite wind names are Sirocco, a southerly wind that blows from north Africa to southern Europe, and Mistral, a cold northerly wind that blows from central France and the Alps to the Mediterranean.

The name sirocco is Italian. In North Africa this wind is known as قبلی (qibli), in Greece it’s σιρόκος (sirokos), in Croatia it’s jugo, and by the time it reaches Southern France it known as the marin.

The name mistral comes from the Provençal word for “master”. Another name for this wind is le vent du fada, or “the idiot wind”, so-called because the Mistral is believed to be more than capable of driving even the sanest weather scientist to gibbering insanity.

Do any of your local winds have interesting names?

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

10 Responses to Blown away

  1. Giovanni says:

    Simon wrote:
    > The name sirocco is Italian

    The spelling is scirocco, at least in modern Italian.

  2. Declan says:

    Well there in Clare where they say “Gaoth an Tóin” but I’m not sure to what it refers. It means wind of the human behind but I dont know where it comes from.

  3. Bill Walsh says:

    Well, let’s see. In Germany, there’s the Föhn (from Latin favonius), a warm dry wind said to be able to induce madness, like the vent du fada. A similar meteorological phenomenon in America is a Chinook wind, named after a Northwestern Indian tribe.

  4. Janis says:

    Chinook, as mentioned. Midwestern US, meaning the warmish winds that herald the end of winter on the plains.

    Santa Anas — EXTREMELY HOT winds that come from inland in southern California. Our winds typically come in off the ocean and are relatively cool, which is one of the reasons why the place can be habitable and semi-desert at the same time.

    Late summer/early fall, we get winds coming in off the mountains — inland — instead. They blow in the other direction, and they are HOT and miserable, and the bane of the wildfires we get.

  5. Karim says:

    In Egypt our version of the Santa Ana system is called “Khamaseen” from Arabic “Khamseen = fifty”. The period when the winds are most likely to hit goes for fifty days starting first of March.

  6. TJ says:

    In Kuwait, we call the northern winds as “Koos” (OO, like “O” in HOLE).
    And the wind that comes with dust is called “Tooz” (hard T and OO like above). This word by the way is turkish and means Dust as well.
    There are also some names used for special type of winds that indicate the beginning or the end of some seasons, but mainly are used by farmers or navigators and fishermen, and I can’t recall their names!

  7. One wind I remember reading about in the book Roots is the harmattan. I’m afraid I don’t have an etymology for the term, but maybe somebody can look at this and figure it out…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmattan

  8. Yitzhakofeir says:

    In Israel our southernly wind is called the “Khamsin”. We call it by the same name as our Arab neighbours.

  9. renato says:

    In southern Brazil, there’s also a special wind, named Vento Norte (North Wind) it’s caractheristic is three days of strong wind and in the fourth day after stop wind, comes a strong rain.

  10. Merry says:

    I am a wildlife conservation educator and we have recently acquired a Peregrine Falcon as an educational ambassador. We are looking for a name befitting such a magnificent bird and are considering words for wind or dieties of the wind. There are some great ideas here…Any more ideas? Keep them coming, please.