Breakup season

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Jan 21 23:28:20 UTC 2012

I too recall being in Anchorage during break-up.

DARE has an entry for "break-up" that's distinct from the "change in
weather" sense. It's Alaskan, of course, and defined as "the late spring
melting of ice and snow" with citations back to 1868.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Benjamin Barrett
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2012 6:05 PM
Subject: Breakup season

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

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

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

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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