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Winds

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Poetical names of the winds. The North wind, Aquilo or Boʹreas; South, Notus or Auster; East, Euʹrus; West, Zephyr or Favonius; North-east, Argesʹtës; North-west, Corus; South-east, Volturnus; South-west, Afer ventus, Afʹricus, Africāʹnus, or Libs. The Thraʹscias is a north wind, but not due north.

“Boreas and Cæcias, and Argestes loud,

And Thrascias rend the woods, and seas upturn;

Notus and Afer, black with thunderous clouds,

From Serralioʹna. Thwart of these, as fierce,

Forth rush … . Eurus and zephyr … .

Sirocco and Libecchio [Libycus].”


Milton: Paradise Lost, x. 699–706.

Special winds.

(1) The Etesian Winds are refreshing breezes which blow annually for forty days in the Mediterranean Sea. (Greek, etʹos, a year.)

(2) The Harmattan. A wind which blows periodically from the interior parts of Africa towards the Atlantic. It prevails in December, January, and February, and is generally accompanied with fog, but is so dry as to wither vegetation and cause human skin to peel off.

(3) The Khamsin. A fifty daysʹ wind in Egypt, from the end of April to the inundation of the Nile. (Arabic for fifty.)

(4) The Mistral. A violent north-west wind blowing down the Gulf of Lyons; felt particularly at Marseilles and the south-east of France.

(5) The Pampero blows in the summer season, from the Andes across the pampas to the sea-coast. It is a dry north-west wind.

(6) The Puna Winds prevail for four mouths in the Puna (table-lands of Peru). The most dry and parching winds of any. When they prevail it is necessary to protect the face with a mask, from the heat by day and the intense cold of the night.

(7) Samʹiel or Simoomʹ. A hot, suffocating wind that blows occasionally in Africa and Arabia. Its approach is indicated by a redness in the air. (Arabic, samoon, from samma, destructive.)

(8) The Sirocco. A wind from Northern Africa that blows over Italy, Sicily, etc., producing extreme languor and mental debility.

(9) The Solaʹno of Spain, a south-east wind, extremely hot, and loaded with fine dust. It produces great uneasiness; hence the proverb, “Ask no favour during the Solano.” (See Trade Winds.)

To take or have the wind. To get or keep the upper hand. Lord Bacon uses the phrase. “To have the wind of a ship” is to be to the windward of it.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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