GELID: very cold, icy cold


We’ve pretty much used up the words to describe what we’ve been going through in New England for the past month.  Some of them are words we can’t print here. And now we’re hearing that there will be another snow storm on Thursday and another on Monday (which seems to be the day of favor for Old Man Winter.)

But in between these next two storms comes Friday, February 13.  Yes, that’s Friday the 13th, and this year it’s going to live up to its reputation if the meteorologists are correct.  All reports say that this is going to be the coldest day of the winter (so far.)   Our anticipated actual high temperature for the day will be 9 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wind chill factors will take it way below zero.  That’s really, really cold, even for New England.

So, here’s a new word for us which will fit right in on Friday.  Gelid.  Here are the words used by the Webster’s Online Dictionary to define the word gelid:

extremely cold; “an arctic climate“; “a frigid day”; “gelid waters of the North Atlantic“; “glacial winds“; “icy hands“; “polar weather

Get the point?  It’s going to be one of those days when you don’t want to go outside, even to get the newspaper, assuming that it gets delivered that day.  Gelid, pronounced [JEL-id], is from the Latin word gelidus , which, (surprise, surprise) means icy cold.

Icy cold  does not mean very, very cool, or even cold.   Icy cold means the kind of cold that makes your forehead ache.  It is the cold that you get when you’re ice fishing with your father out in the middle of Lake Champlain in January and he’s really enjoying himself.  You’re shivering and your pants have become like cardboard.  Your insulated socks and boots feel  as though you are in flip-flops with no socks. You have to go to the bathroom, but you’re not about to. You are thirsty, but your water bottle is solid ice.   That’s gelid.

I remember the night we went to see Dr. Zhivago at a movie theater in Massachusetts.  It was the middle of the summer.  But when we came out to get into our car I was shivering so hard I couldn’t put the key into the lock on the driver’s side.  That’s gelid, as in a Russian winter.

We in New England expect some degree of cold weather in the winter.   A few days where it might get down into the single  digits.   Northern New England might get colder, and certainly on top of Mt. Washington (NH) where it snows in the summer, this degree of frigid weather is more normal.   But we in Rhode Island pride ourselves on having a mild winter with some snow and some cold weather, but not a lot.

Not this year!   This one takes the cake.  And it’s an ice cream cake!  It’s gelid out there.


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