"Nor'easter" -- missing definition? and an antedating

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 20 01:37:19 UTC 2010

Has anybody here been to sea or know anyone who's been to sea and,
therefore, might know what contemporary seafarers, at least, say? I
read Jan freeman's Boston Globe article, which, for me, is the last
word on the subject of the *word* _nor'easter_.. As it happens, I have
a brother who spent years on an aircraft carrier and, later, on a
destroyer, as both EM and officer. Unfortunately it has never occurred
to me , before now, to ask him about the nor[th]easter, he being of
somewhat-waspish temperament, with nothing much more than contempt for
the ignorance of others.

IME from living in Boston, I consider a "nor[th]easter" to be a
full-blown (no pun intended) storm and not merely a wind. However, I
have no vested interest in this. So, it's fine with me, if others
choose to believe otherwise.

WRT "blue norther," Kelli's mention of this storm is the only other
time that I've come across it, since that time when Sky King and his
sidekicks were trapped by a snow-bearing one in an episode of the old
radio show, back in the '40's. There's nothing like that in East
Texas, just eye-blasting, eardrum-shattering thunderstorms.

There was an odd local(?) belief: if you made any kind of loud noise
during such a storm, you would call down the lightning onto wherever
it was that you were sheltering. I recall talking in whispers and
walking on tip-toe, during such storms. As a child, I really wanted to
see whether a thunderbolt could actually set a house afire, when it
was pouring down rain. So, I always kinda hoped that some neighbor
would make a loud noise and cause his house to be struck by lightning,
so that I could see whether the crib would consequently burn to the
ground, despite all the water falling from the sky.


On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 1:51 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "Nor'easter" -- missing definition? and an antedating
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 1/19/2010 01:25 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>Literary? Then how explain customary nautical pronunciations "nor'east,"
>>"nor'west," "nor'nor'west," etc.?
> The highly-educated seamen and fishermen of pre-colonial, colonial,
> and early Republic New England?  :-)
> Joel
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