More offshoots of Latin siccus

The previous post dealt with desecar/desiccate and some other descendants of the Latin adjective siccus, which meant ‘dry’ and which is the ancestor of the synonymous Spanish seco. The French cognate is sec, which English has borrowed to indicate a ‘dry’ wine, especially with reference to champagne.’ In standard French the feminine form of sec is sèche, but the dialectal form seiche also exists; as a noun, it designates ‘an exposed [and therefore dry] portion of a lake bottom.’ The earth sciences have adopted seiche as a name for, in the definition of the American Heritage Dictionary, ‘a wave that oscillates in lakes, bays, or gulfs from a few minutes to a few hours as a result of seismic or atmospheric disturbances.’

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 20:58:34

    Now I have a another word — “seiche” — for the standing waves that show up here occasionally. I’m two stories up and about fifty feet to the right, but this stock photo is roughly the view from my computer.

    The fairway’s pretty long, and runs north and south. In winter, strong northerlies (gale force) will set up standing waves in the fairway as the water hits the bulkhead at the south end and reflects back. In winter or summer, we see the same thing at the Galveston jetties whenever strong winds oppose an equally strong tide.

    What’s even more interesting is that the behavior of Clear Lake during these events mimics almost perfectly this description of seiche events on Lake Erie.
    I’m a little fuzzy on the science, but there’s enough narrative for me to see the similarities.


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 22:03:53

      I never expected anyone reading this to have experienced a seiche, but you have, and now you have a name to go with the experience.

      The photograph in the article you linked to clearly shows how land that would normally be under water was temporarily “dry.” Here in central Texas there’s lots of lake bottom that the drought has temporarily uncovered and dried out, returning it it its pre-dam state.


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©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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