words for small amounts of wind - cat's paw/Zephyr - SailNet Community

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Old 04-20-2011
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words for small amounts of wind - cat's paw/Zephyr

in one of my films

Vlog 103 West Mark Knock « Keep Turning Left

I used the word zephyr to describe a small puff of wind. Lots of people - okay three - said that they had never heard the word used and said that cat's paw was much more common.

I occasionally work on a BBC radio prog called word of mouth - about the spoken word - and wondered if there were many words for the same thing - basically a puff of wind you can see on the water

if you don't get what I mean then in the film (2 mins in) you can see the slug picking up the zephyrs along the River Nene that leads down to the Wash

any other words for wind and their derivations - blowing a hoolie - gratefully received

Dylan
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Last edited by dylanwinter1; 04-20-2011 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 04-20-2011
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While familiar with zephyr and cat's paw, I guess my own vocabulary is rather mundane. For almost 50 years I've always referred to those as a puff.
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Old 04-20-2011
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I think a zephyr of wind will create a catspaw on the water?

or a "breath" of wind also?

Last edited by nolatom; 04-20-2011 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-20-2011
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A Sephyr is a soft gentle breeze. Could cause Cat's paws or a ghostly soft touch on your cheek.
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Old 04-20-2011
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Perhaps to be redundant (as those before me have said this) and maybe to be pedantic...
A zephyr (n) is a gentle breeze from the west, but commonly just a gentle breeze. Usually a consistent light breeze.
A puff (n) is a burst of wind.
A gust (n) is a larger burst of wind.
A cat's paw (n) is the small patch of ripples on the water, not a description of a type of wind. This is usually caused by light puffs in the center of the lake, unlike the video where it appears to be caused by a steady stream of air from between the obstructions on shore; We would call this a "wind line" which can be a description of where wind speed is distinctly different on one side of the line and the other.

The others, a "breath" of wind and a "gostly soft touch on your cheek" sound more like adjectives... although, I do like the latter!
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Old 04-20-2011
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Jordan nailed it.
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Old 04-20-2011
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A zephyr is the gentlest breath of wind. I'd more use it when becalmed and you feel that very first stirring of breeze: a zephyr! (For pop culture, in Master and Commander then the jinxed midshipman’s funeral is over the first breeze starts breaking their being becalmed).

I'm a bit surprised its not a common word. I'm Australian and know it well.

In sailing I would more use the word 'Gust' as thats what we're looking for across the water. A darker patch of water that shows where a bit of wind is. So a dinghy sailor will always be looking for the gusts. On Olympic coach will be driving it into the crews. I saw one kid in an Optimist the other day with a coaches speed boat beside him yelling "Gust" at each gust. Because the Optimists are small the "gusts' were coming about every 10 seconds "Gust, Gust Gust" the poor kid was being hassled no end.

When I was racing on flat water, harbours etc we called them Puffs, or Darkies... the gust making the water darker. I don't think they use 'darkies' now, but it was never meant to be racist.

When becalmed we would call up Hughie for a gust. "Come on Hughie, give us a puff". Dunno who Hughie was!

We never called them cats Paws, but knew of the phrase.


Ahhhh to sit under a palm tree with an icy beer and a zephyr of cool breeze






Mark
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Old 04-20-2011
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By the way, the old sailing ships used many more words to describe wind than we do. They could never tell the actual speed of wind till recently with wind speed instruments. So they were much more descriptive. Far more in depth than Beaufort Scale descriptions.

I had a link to the old terms... but it must have died on some old computer...
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Old 04-20-2011
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dig man dig

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
By the way, the old sailing ships used many more words to describe wind than we do. They could never tell the actual speed of wind till recently with wind speed instruments. So they were much more descriptive. Far more in depth than Beaufort Scale descriptions.

I had a link to the old terms... but it must have died on some old computer...
try to remember

did a google search

came up with not very much

can you remember anything

sounds perfect

D
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Old 04-20-2011
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Wind Names

Gracious, I had no idea.
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