Breakup season

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sat Jan 21 23:04:44 UTC 2012

As a kid near Anchorage, I recall the breakup season when the snow turned to dirty, muddy slush and all the litter that had accumulated over the winter appeared. It is an ugly time of year. One elementary school I attended held drawings for kids picking up garbage. You got one entry for each bag of garbage you brought in. Breakup season is an important event in any cold climate.

The OED is close with "change from fine or settled weather, or from frost," but I think this meaning deserves its own place as "breakup season" is not understood to be on the same level as "breakup of the sunny weather" but a particular spring phenomenon/period of time.

The AHD is also close with "The cracking and shifting of ice in rivers or harbors during the spring." That is also an important series of events/time period. I recall a bar that held a pool to see when a certain lake would breakup. Whoever had the closest time won the money.

The MW meaning is close to AHD with "the breaking, melting, and loosening of ice in the spring."

Googling on the Anchorage Times site, I see just one instance of "breakup season":

Tip: Keep our waterways clean this breakup season -- scoop the poop! (

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society -

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