This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Word To Use Today: gale.

Here's a word with a definite scientific meaning.

A gale is a strong wind of between 45 and 102 kilometres an hour.

There. We know where we are there, then. The only slight problem is that if you're reading old poetry then a gale is quite likely to mean a gentle breeze, as in Thomson's 1728 poem Spring: While every gale is peace, and every grove is melody.

Ah well. You can probably tell which is which from the context.

Then there's the gale which is otherwise called Myrica gala or Bog Myrtle:

It may not look much, but it's said to be good for stomach-aches, acne and flavouring beer, and it's tradionally put in the bouquets of royal brides. (It's also excellent as an insect repellent, but presumably there's no connection there with the royal brides.)

If you have to pay a regular rent, a royalty on mining rights in the Forest of Dean, or a toll on fish, then you're paying a gale.

More cheerfully, a gale is a song, or singing, and, linked to this meaning, gale means a state of hilarity, though it's been used in that sense more commonly in America than in England.

Best of all, why not mix the word gale in two of its senses and indulge in a gale of laughter.

Word To Use Today: gale. The plant name comes from the Old English gagel; the wind possibly comes from a shortening of gull wind; the singing word comes form the Old English galan, to sing.


  1. That video sure is a pick-me-up!
    It might not have quite produced gales of laughter from me, but it sure got me smiling!

    1. That little boy (he's called Micah) has cheered up millions of people.

      I doubt if anyone of his age has ever achieved anything more worthwhile.