blawdurk

The ice giants have swept into town riding on their howling wind-wolves, and the air and ground are so iron-hard that if the cold kills you, no one can shovel; they will bury you in midair.

The ice giants want to kill you. The wolves want to bite you and the giants want to stab you in the face, over and over.

And they do. Even if the wolves do not manage to give you frostbite, the giants will give you blawdurk. The weather may seem almost tolerable, the air just ice-glass, crisp and clear, scratched here and there by small diamonds of frost, but then you will turn a corner and the breeze will put a dagger into your cheek, your brow, your eyelid, your eye. It is that boreal pain: no tropical denizen, however much they may be sun-broiled, will get from the weather a hard-iron agony within the span of three breaths. The ice giants test your mettle by testing their metal: daggers of icy gusts, blawdurk.

What is this word blawdurk, how has it been blown together? Check your Scots dictionary: blaw means ‘gust, blowing’, and similar things; durk means ‘dirk’ or ‘dagger’ – a small dagger formerly often carried, and not just by ice giants. When you turn that corner and the daggers of ice slam into your face, this is blawdurk.

Well, we needed a word for it, didn’t we? I decided we did after experiencing the good old Canadian face pain today. I took these two bits from Scots and froze them together to make a new old word. If you have a different term for it, well, that’s fine too.

 

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