In illo tempore
02 Mar 2019

North Carolina folklore

I wish I had time to read all the interesting books in the world. Here's the Frank C. Brown collection of North Carolina folklore:

The bibliographies after each chapter are especially valuable.

Tags: books
21 Feb 2019


Niveous (ni·v/ǐ/ˌəs), a. Also 7 niuious, nivious. [ad L. niveus, f. niv-, nix snow.] Snowy, resembling snow.

1623 Cockeram II, White as snow, niuious.

1646 Sir T. Browne Pseud. Ep. 338 Cinaber becomes red .. which otherwise presents a pure and niveous white.

1800 Hurdis Fav. Village 1 13 Cottage and steeple in the niveous stole of Winter trimly dressed.

1826 Kirby & Sp. Entomol. xlvi. IV. 278 Niveous, the pure unblended white of snow.

Tags: oed
13 Feb 2019


† Abay (ăbēⁱ·). Obs.

[a. OFr. abai barking, f. vb. abayer to bark ; cf. mod. Fr. aboi in phrase être aux abois, mettre aux abois (found in 15 c.): to be or put at bay, said of the stag etc. in the moment of extremity, when closed in by the dogs which are barking after him. See BAY sb.³]

1. Barking, baying of dogs upon their prey; especially when they have run it down, and are closing round it. To stand at abay, said of the dogs: to stand barking round.

1580 Baret: Alvearie Abbay is a French woorde, and signifieth barking against something … For when the Dere is utterly wearied and out of breath, then is he faine (setting himselfe to some hedge, tree, etc.) to stande at defiance against all the houndes barking rounde about him, and to defende himselfe with his hornes, as it were at the sworde poynt, as long as he is able. Hereupon we say commonly of men at variance: He will holde or keepe him at abbay.

1616 Surfl. & Markh.: Countrey Farme 700 At such times as foxes and brocks haue young ones, you must take all your old earth dogs, and let them take the earth, afterward when they shal begin to stand at an abbaie, then must the young ones be brought vnto the mouth of the hole one by one and there cause them to heare the abbaie.

2. To be at abay, said of the hunted animal when the dogs ‘stand at abay’ round him, or have reduced him to desperation; hence, to be in extremities, to be in straits so as to have nowhere to turn, to be in desperation. (Now at bay.)

c 1350 Will. Palerne 46 And euere the dogge at the hole held it at a-baye.

c 1400 Sir Degrevant 238 Hertus bade at abey One a launde by a ley.

c 1430 Hymns to Virg. etc. (1867) 70 Y am huntid as an herte to a-bay, I not whidir y may me turne.

1430 Lydgate Chron. Troy I. vi. She was at abay yset Amyd hope and fearfull dreade also.

1580 Sidney Arcadia (1622) 34 The Stagge … turning his head, made the hounds, with change of speech, to testifie that he was at a bay; as if from hot pursuit of their enemie, they were suddenly come to a parley.

1596 Spenser State Irel. Wks. 1862, 536/I All former purposes were blancked (and) the Governour at a bay.

1670 Milton Hist. Eng. Wks. 1851, v. 229 Who like a wild Beast at abbay, seeing himself surrounded, desperately laid about him, wounding some in his fall.

Tags: oed
29 Aug 2018

New weapons, old medicine

From Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman:

Here was an inescapable irony of the Civil War, not known in any conflict between men before or since: the fact that this was a war fought with new and highly effective weapons, machines for the mowing down of men—and yet at a time when an era of poor and primitive medicine was just coming to an end. It was fought with the mortar and the musket and the minié ball, but not yet quite with anesthesia or with sulphonamides and penicillin. The common soldier was thus in a poorer position than at any time before: he could be monstrously ill-treated by all the new weaponry, and yet only moderately well-treated with all the old medicine.

Tags: books
21 Aug 2018

A sea-fret, or haar

Fr Hunwicke mentioned a "sea fret" recently, and I imagined him looking through some wrought-iron latticework near the shore:

If you don't know Ramsgate, as I didn't, you should follow my lead and remedy the omission (preferably during S Augustine's Week). I peered out through the sea fret almost hoping to see a phantasma of S Augustine's boat bringing the purest Roman Christianity to the people of Kent; then i looked round the Church which now houses a relic of the Saint. Forgive me for going all wet on you, but I felt a great sense of being 'in on' the foundation of the English Church, a millennium and a half ago.

Helen Dalby, an editor at Chronicle Live, based in Newcastle, explains that the Northeast of England in particular sees so many sea frets, or haars, because they're on the shore of the freezing North Sea. When warm wet air passes over a cold surface, you get a cold wet fog.

Mulier Fortis, in Ramsgate, writes about her own experience of a sea fret:

Living across the road from the beach means that, since my relocation, I have had ample opportunity to experience "proper" fog. I love it - especially the way it deadens sounds… everything goes so quiet… and watching a bank of fog approach over the water is really fascinating! And then there is the disconcerting (and, to me, thrilling…) experience of being unable to see what is just the other side of the road… or even as far as the waterline…

Fortunately, the Venerable Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary noticed the word haar , from an Old Norse word meaning hoary:

Haar (hēɹ). local. Also harr, haur. [? a. ON. hárr, hoar, hoary: cf. hoar-frost.] A wet mist or fog; esp. applied on the east coast of England and Scotland, from Lincolnshire northwards, to a cold sea-fog.

1671 Skinner Etym. Ling. Angl., A Sea Harr, Lincolniensibus Maritimis Tempestas à mari ingruens.

1777 Nimmo Hist. Stirlingsh. 438 In the months of April and May, easterly winds, commonly called Haars, usually blow with great violence, especially in the afternoons.

1806 Gazetteer Scotl. (ed. 2) 389 The water of the lake [Loch Ness] .. never freezes in the severest winter, and, in frosty weather, is covered with a thick haar or mist, which has the appearance of smoke.

1876 Whitby Gloss., Haar, mist with small rain. 'A northern harr Brings fine weather from far.'

1889 N.W. Linc. Gloss. (ed. 2), Har, fog, mist, especially when it is cold.

1892 Stevenson Across the Plains 171 History broods over that part of the world like the easterly haar.

Tags: words oed
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