Tag Archives: freshet

freshet

This word has a splash of refreshment in its sound, like Suzanne Pleshette with a bottle of Freixenet. In fact, it almost sounds like a brand name for plug-in air fresheners or mouthwash strips. Or it could be some little thing you catch in a fish net, or a female freshman, or a refreshed fourchette (French fork), or some hip-hop artist, or…

Just listen to how it splashes, like a Ferrari into a flooded underpass! First with the [f], then the swelling up of the liquid [r], then opening to the mid-front [ɛ] before the big splash of [ʃ] and the quick deceleration and downsplash of [ɪt]. Is it perhaps a quick rainstorm?

Close! It’s a sudden flood of a stream or river due to rain, melting snow, both, or something else. This word looks like it comes from fresh, and in fact it does. Originally it was just a name for a freshwater stream that flows into the sea, but by the mid-1600s it had gained the additional specific meaning of a quick flood of a fresh stream.

In short, it’s what Cougar Creek in Canmore and Exshaw Creek in Exshaw and the Elbow River in Calgary became a couple of weeks ago, and what the Don River and a few other streams became this afternoon in Toronto. Quick as a whisternefet (a sharp slap), a simple flow of fresh water flashed into flood form. Just because before the stream could empty, more and more water came to refreshet. Freshet’s sake…