Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Word That Falls From the Sky

Finally, we had a weekend where we couldn’t make small talk about how unseasonable the weather seemed. None of winter having hightailed it early, none of the heavy-by-California-standards coat hanging unused in the closet and absolutely none of that “I guess this is why we live in Los Angeles” blather. (An appropriate response: “How interesting that you have exactly one criterion on which you picked you home!”) Yeah, Los Angeles was rained upon this weekend — even snowed upon in those mythical higher-up places where beach parking isn’t a thing — and I loved it. Damp socks and the occasional spokesmodel washed into the gutter make for small annoyances in the wake of a much-needed rain.

In celebration of the occasion — The Day It Rained That One Time, surely a holiday to be celebrated by Angelenos of the future — I’m picking a rain-related word of the week.
hyetal (HAI-eh-tul) — adjective: of or relating to rain or rainy regions.
So why this particular rain-related word? Its etymology doesn’t trace back to anywhere particularly interesting, unless you’re just nuts over huetos, the Greek word for “rain.” It sound especially clinical for a term that describes a phenomenon that tends to illicit specific emotional interactions in people. And it’s not even necessary, since we already have pluvial, a fancy word for “rain-related” that flows off the tongue like raindrops in a spring storm. (Hyetal, however, erupts from the back of the throat in the manner of explosive phlegm.) No, I picked hyetal simply because I had never heard it before last week. And it just somehow seems significant to have learned a new word for the kind of basic, familiar thing that a person might learn about in the first week of learning a new language.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

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