This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sunday Rest: frontogenesis. Word Not To Use Today.

Look, for a start there's no point in using the word frontogenesis because no one has a clue what it means.

Let's face it, even I don't know what it means, and I must have done at some point because it's written down on my Quite Interesting Words To Write About On The Word Den list.

Now, it may be that fronto is a bit of genuine Greek, and so goes as happily with genesis as Crosse goes with Blackwell; but I very much doubt it.

So, what is frontogenesis?

Well, I've just looked it up, and it's to do with the forming of, yes, fronts. That's fronts of the kind you get on weather maps, which are lines which show places where the temperature drops or rises sharply.

I'd like to be generous and say that a knowledge of Greek isn't to be expected from meteorologists (though the person who made up meteorologist knew Greek) but that doesn't wash.

I mean, how about this. This is the three-dimensional form of the frontogenesis equation:
\begin{alignat}{3} F = \frac{1}{|\nabla \theta|}\cdot \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial x}\left \{ \frac{1}{C_p} \left ( \frac{p_\circ}{p} \right )^\kappa \left [ \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left (\frac{dQ}{dt} \right ) \right ] - \left ( \frac{\partial u}{\partial x} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial x} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial v}{\partial x} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial y} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial w}{\partial x} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial z} \right ) \right \} \\
+ \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial y}\left \{ \frac{1}{C_p} \left ( \frac{p_\circ}{p} \right )^\kappa \left [ \frac{\partial}{\partial y} \left (\frac{dQ}{dt} \right ) \right ] - \left ( \frac{\partial u}{\partial y} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial x} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial v}{\partial y} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial y} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial w}{\partial y} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial z} \right ) \right \} \\
+ \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial z}\left \{ \frac{p_\circ^\kappa}{C_p} \left [ \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \left (p^{-\kappa} \frac{dQ}{dt} \right ) \right ] - \left ( \frac{\partial u}{\partial z} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial x} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial v}{\partial z} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial y} \right ) - \left ( \frac{\partial w}{\partial z} \frac{\partial \theta}{\partial z} \right ) \right \}\end{alignat}

And as far as I'm concerned you don't get much more Greek than that.

Word Not To Use Today: frontogenesis. Look, the word's a monstrosity. The front bit comes from the Latin frōns, which means forehead, and genesis comes from Old English, and before that from the Greek gignesthai, to be born.

The Greek for forehead is metopon, and metoponogenesis would clearly have been a much cooler word.

But even I am not going to lose any sleep over it.



  1. Front formation works for me! :)

    1. How sensible and comprehensible, Jingles. Let's hope some of the meteorologists are listening.

  2. Woah, woah, woah! You can't just presume no one knows the word 'frontogenesis'! I'll have you know it's a very common term around these parts.

    "Better batten down the hatches tonight."
    "Yup. There's a frontogenesis a'comin'."
    "Sweet Mary and Joseph."

    Very common.

    1. And I thought that the tongue of the Irish rippled over the land like a stream of leprechaun gold glinting and chiming with all the sweetness of an angel choir with extra echo effect and a backing of fairy flutes and small curly-headed children humming fit to burst.
      So. That must have been just on the Tourist Board video, then.
      Ah well.