The rain rattles the window like words heard once and half forgotten: the speech of strangers in calm crowds, the arcane ingredients in ancient recipes, an epic poet’s hapax legomena. Outside, the world twists in the cold wet dark; within, I am warm and I will sleep well, caressed by the berceuse of the pleuvisaud.
Pleuvisaud? Surely you have wondered from time to time what the mot juste might be for the sound of rain on a roof or windowpane. If you Google this question, you will encounter, among others, this word pleuvisaud, mentioned on Stack Exchange (“I don’t remember where I’ve seen this, but, ‘pleuvisaud’ has been used to describe the pleasant sound of rain. In particular, the comforting sound of rain on a roof while one is inside”) or Quora (“I have seen the word pleuvisaud used to describe the sound of rain on a roof. Unfortunately I don’t know the source. But it’s a rather lovely word”). If you further search the word, you will find a page and a half of results, mostly apparently copied by aggregator sites from Stack Exchange, but also a few uses in fiction by one author, someone who goes by Emma_ChrisWay:
Shaking, Zeta heads back to the cafe. She sits by the window as rain starts to drum on the bay window(Deep in the Heart of Texas)
“I used to love that sound,” she thinks. “Pleuvisaud.”
Meanwhile, Kristen lounges cosily in her family’s Camper van overlooking the downy Mendip Hills. ‘Pleuvisaud’ she muses to herself as the rain tip-taps comfortingly on the tin roof.(Dark Night of the Soul)
Sergio and Jim embrace as big fat drops of rain fall on the roof of the cabin. ‘Pleuvisaud’ sighs Sergio. ‘What did you say?’ asks Jim quizzically. Sergio turns to Jim with a gentle smile ‘Pleuvisaud; the comforting sound of rain on a roof.’(Waves of Freedom)
It appears that these three works of fiction are the source for the respondent(s) on Stack Exchange and Quora; it’s not impossible that at least one of them, identified as Emma Davies, is the same person as Emma_ChrisWay. But tracing such a detail is not always easier than, say, knowing where a particular raindrop formed.
And where did Emma_ChrisWay get the word? Not in any dictionary to which I have recourse. For that matter, the morphology of the word is not quite transparent. The pleuv- seems to suggest rain, although the usual form of the root is pluv- (as in pluvious); an exception is pleuvoir, the French verb for ‘rain’ (as in il pleut, ‘it’s raining’). The -isaud (or perhaps -visaud) doesn’t match any root I can find or am familiar with, though it has a faint sound of “sound” and a passing glimpse of the start of audio.
There is no word I can find in English or any other language that closely resembles this word. Perhaps there is one somewhere that’s similar but just different enough that I can’t manage to find it. Or perhaps not. Perhaps Emma_ChrisWay decided that the sound needed a word and determined to make one she found suitable. And if she did, who am I to gainsay the effort?
So we don’t know just where pleuvisaud came from, any more than we know the lakes that a raindrop evaporated from. But listen: it sounds right. We need it. Take it, and rest.