Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


May 21, 2010
This week's theme
Whose what?

This week's words
Ockham's razor
Morton's fork
Hobson's choice
Achilles' heel
St. Elmo's fire

St. Elmo's fire
St. Elmo's fire on a ship
An illustration from the 1875 book The Aerial World by Dr. G. Hartwig

This week's comments
AWADmail 412

Next week's theme
Words having many unrelated meanings
Discuss
Feedback
RSS/XML
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

St. Elmo's fire

PRONUNCIATION:
(saynt EL-mohz fyr)

MEANING:
noun: An electrical discharge visible at the surface of a conductor, as a ship's mast or an airplane's wing.

ETYMOLOGY:
After St. Erasmus (mispronounced as Elmo by sailors) who is regarded as the patron saint of sailors and an electrical discharge on the mast of a ship is believed to be a sign of his protection. This phenomenon of corona discharge is also called St. Elmo's light.

USAGE:
"When Capt Moody opened the door to the cockpit he saw the windscreen ablaze with a St. Elmo's fire -- a discharge of static electricity."
When Volcanic Ash Stopped a Jumbo at 37,000ft; BBC News (London, UK); Apr 15, 2010.

"Donald Holder's lighting design needed more pizzazz, particularly in scenes like the storm that sparks St. Elmo's fire on the ship's masts."
Heidi Waleson; Taming the Whale; The Wall Street Journal (New York); May 4, 2010.

See more usage examples of St. Elmo's fire in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me. -Banksy, street artist (b. 1974)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere

Donate

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2018 Wordsmith