Have you heard the word “storm” all you needed to hear for the rest of your life?
Well, our friends at Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, like to make lists. We’ve had a few here before, learning new words and expanding on some old ones.
Today they have provided us with a few storm words we haven’t thought about. Only one could be connected to a hurricane and I’ll start with that.
“The Perfect Storm:” We like to associate perfect with day, or weekend, but meteorologists have a specific designation for the perfect storm, one that features a remarkable concurrence of terrible meteorological factors like the 1991 storm off the eastern Atlantic seaboard that inspired the book “The Perfect Storm” and the movie that followed.
The authors say a perfect storm is “any critical or disastrous situation created by similarly powerful factors combining to be especially impressive.”
I think it is safe to say that Harvey was a perfect storm.
Another storm word is “brainstorming.” You probably know that as a bunch of minds getting together to work out some kind of a problem.
Before brainstorm was used this way, back in the mid-19th century, it was used to refer to a violent fit of insanity.
Then there’s “barnstorm.” When I think of barnstormers, I think of those early pilots who used to fly around doing tricks with airplanes.
It is also used to talk about theatrical performances going around to rural districts. They don’t all have to be rural, but a lot are, including visits from politicians running for office.
Another on the list is “firestorm.” We have seen that illustrated a lot recently out in California.
But in addition to a destructive fire with high winds, there is a firestorm started by a nuclear or incendiary weapon that creates an updraft of strong inrushing winds.
Figurative firestorms including other kinds of violent outbursts or raging controversies.
Incidentally, there’s a comic superhero named Firestorm.
And we should not forget “storm troopers,” which really have absolutely nothing to do with storms, per se.
If you are old enough to remember World War II, or if you have studied it in history class, you know that storm troopers were a private Nazi army notorious for aggressiveness, violence and brutality.
Anyone who acts like that in these modern times can also be referred to a storm trooper.
And speaking of storm troopers, do you remember the words Sturm und Drang, which is German for storm and stress. Used together, they refer to turmoil.
Last, but not least, doctors sometimes refer to a storm as a medical crisis, a sudden increase in the symptoms of a disease.
Here’s hoping none of us has to hear our favorite medic use that particular “storm.”