• derecho •
dê-re-cho • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (US) A line of intense fast-moving windstorms, sometimes thunderstorms, that move over great distances causing widespread damage.
Notes: This word is just picking up speed in the States; the Oxford English Dictionary has yet to list it. It still sounds too foreign to English speakers to have gained a family, and it didn't bring its Spanish family with it.
In Play: First, let's take a look at how meteorologists would use today's word: "The US Weather Service is predicting that a derecho with winds up to 120 miles per hour will pass through our area tomorrow." However, if you are tired of telling your teenager(s) that their room looks as if a tornado hit it, now you have an alternative: "Will you please clean up your room? It looks like a derecho passed through it."
Word History: Today's Good Word was introduced by Gustavus Hinrichs in 1886 to distinguish derechos from tornados and cyclones. Hinrichs was at the University of Iowa at the time and remained in the US for the rest of his life. The word holed up in the sciences for most of its life, just nosing out into the general vocabulary recently. Derecho is the Spanish word for "straight, right", descended from Latin directus, the perfect passive participle of dirigere "lay straight; direct", comprising di(s)- "apart" + reg- "move in a straight line". We see it in regula "rule", which went into the making of regular and regulation, both borrowed from French. Anglo-French reduced regula to rule in both senses of the word before English borrowed it. (Let's all [who recognize the gesture] tip our hats in gratitude to a most prolific contributor, Jackie Strauss, for remembering us when she came across today's unusual Good Word.)
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