Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Breastsummer in Midwinter

The following word-of-the-week is easily the one so far with the most beautiful sound and the most comparatively plain meaning. Get ready for disappointment.
breastsummer (BREST-sum-uhr) — noun: a horizontal beam supporting a wall over a large opening, such as a shop window.
Though those words make sense, I felt a visual aid would better explain the term. The below photo, which comes from the Wikipedia page for timber framing, illustrates a certain kind of breastsummer: the jetty breastsummer. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the beam at the base of the upper level that’s pushed out beyond the wall of the lower level.

Surely not as sexy as one might hope a Google image search for breastsummer might turn up, but educational, at least. To tell the truth, Google image search was less than helpful in finding an actual picture of a breastsummer.

Next to the above, the runner up was this:

It’s a meat platter that happens to contain turkey breast and summer sausage.

According to A.Word.A.Day, the term — which can also be spelled bressummer, though I say “Where’s the fun in that?” — comes from a combination of the architectural term breast, meaning “the part of the wall between a window and the floor,” and the Old French word somier, meaning “packhorse” or “beam” and coming from the Latin sagma, meaning “packsaddle.”

If you ever see a breastsummer out in the wild, be sure to point out its unusual sexiness.


  1. I launched my shuttlecock in-between a buttress and a breastsummer.

  2. That word is going to be stuck in my head all day today, I just know it.

  3. Batalla: If only a titmouse would alight on the breastsummer.

    Zentastic: Then I've done my job.