Chilling Curglaff

This esoteric word  falls into the archaic category. And it is, as the title reveals …

curglaff (n.) The shock felt when one plunges or walks into cold water

Think curglaff (KUHR-glaf) entered the language somewhere far north of the equator? The answer is aye: It came from the Scottish Highlands, and early enough to have made it into the first edition of An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1810), compiled by the Rev. John Jamieson. An environment gives rise to words that reflect it, and apparently Scots grew so tired of being at a loss for words when diving into Loch Ness and the North Sea that someone dreamed up this eight-letter coinage.

Which reminds me: The widespread notion that the Inuit, our neighbors in the frozen North, have more than a dozen words for snow is something of an exaggeration. The Yup’ik Eskimo Dictionary (1984), by Steven A. Jacobson, does include seven variations on the word snow, but four are dialectal rather than descriptive. The three that fit the bill? Qanikcaq (snow on the ground); qanisqineq (snow on water); and muruaneq (soft, deep snow).

Twelve more Yupik* terms, including those translated as crusted snow, snow formation, snowflake, and snowstorm, are merely snow-related, and in this respect are no more numerous than their English counterparts – avalanche, blizzard, snow bank, snow flurry, snowman, and so forth.

*Yupik, spoken in southwestern Alaska, has three dialects and two subdialects. 

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