• climate •
klai-mit • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The weather in a region over a long period of time. 2. The prevailing opinion in some area of thought or avenue of endeavor.
Notes: People are inclined to compare the weather over a short period of time to the claims of "climate change". Climate change can cause changes in the day-to-day weather. But climate change is global; weather is not.
In Play: The most common usage this word is in connection with the changes that are taking place in global climate: "Every country on Earth except the US has agreed to the UN-sponsored Paris Climate Change Accord." However, the figurative sense is encountered quite often in writings and speech: "The political climate does not permit the US to participate in formal agreements on climate change."
Word History: Until the end of the 14th century this word meant "horizontal zone of the earth." The word itself was borrowed from Old French climat "region, part of the earth," from Latin clima(t), borrowed from Greek klima "region, zone", formerly "an inclination, slope" via "slope of the earth from equator to pole". We know this from its source, a suffixed form of PIE root klei- "to lean". This root came directly to Latin as clinare "to bend, bow", found in such English borrowings as incline, recline and proclivity. In German, the [k] sound became [h], which tends to disappear, so find lehnen "to lean" in German and in English, lean. In the Baltic languages it became [kh], which often changed to [š] as in Lithuanian šlieti "lean on, adjoin". (Thanks is due to our old friend Sue Gold of Westtown School for seeing the importance of today's Good Word.)
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