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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Of silver thaws and glitter storms

I'm looking out my window at the trees encased in ice and thinking "Well that's pretty" (and then thinking, "How am I going to get to choir tonight?" 
Perhaps it would make all of us southern Ontarians trapped by an ice storm happier if we adopt the word they use for this phenomenon down in the Maritimes and Newfoundland: silver thaw. Poetic, eh? 
This word is not unique to Eastern Canada; apparently it is also used in the Pacific Northwest. Neither does it seem to be a North American invention, as Thomas Hardy (among others) used it.
But Newfoundlanders up the poetic ante with another word for freezing rain and its effects that is unique to them: glitter storm.
How prosaic are we with our "freezing rain" and "ice storm"!

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.