I need archaic, evocative words for "winter" and "spring"

As I’ve mentioned in approximately 12,094,594,555 threads, I’m working ona fantasy novel. The first half of it is an urban fantasy, set in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1980s; this section, in turn, is divided into two, each of which is ed after the approximate dates the action takes place in (in other words, Section I is “November '83 to January '85,” and section two is "May 87 to November '87.)

The second half of the story is high fantasy; the two main characters travel to an alternate world in which the sun is a living creature (the Phoenix) which travels over this (flat) world once a day, resting for an hour at noon atop a great mountain which glows during the night hours–this world’s moon. I’ve recently reached the point in the story where the main characters have entered the alternate world. For reasons of parallelism I want to name the sections according to the dates of the Fabulous World’s calendar; but rather than use the words “winter” and “spring,” I’d like something more…I don’t know…suggestive. Subtle. (And I’ve already thought of hibernal & vernal.)

Thus I come to the SMDB, as this is the best repository of pointless knowledge I know.

Thanks in advance.

Well, here in Minnesota we have “winter” and “road repair.”

This may be of service

Inspect it closely before dismissing it.

If intend to use it, make me a minor character. You can e-mail me for my RL name. :slight_smile:

You could take a look at this wikipedia site for middle earth calendars.


No, if FC is writing a novel, using the Middle Earth Calendar from Tolkien would be plaigerism.

I especially like “Germinal” for spring – though it has been used as the title of another well-known novel.

You mean “plagiarism.”

Actually I don’t quite agree, though I don’t intend to use the good professor anyway. If I were simply to use a word J. R. R. used in his legendarium but didn’t coin–say “dwarrows” or “gnomes”–that is certainly not plagiarism. But if I used a word he coined and which the Tolkien estate has trademarked–say “hobbit”–then that’s another thing, and nothing I want to get into. I started looking for another word because I was thinking of calling the season “Winterfilth” but didn’t care for the sound, and also it sounded too Shirey.

Well, there’s the famous “Sumer is Icumen In” poem, in which Summer (or Spring, depending on your translator) is “Sumer”, but that’ll make your readers think you’re writing about ancient Mesopotamia:


To make my lost post more clear: I was trying to differentiate between plagiarism and copyright infringement. I could use a Quenya or sindarin word for winter & spring, for instance, and acknowledge in the text or some other such note that the words I was using were created by JRRT; that would not be plagiarism (since I wouldn’t be trying to take credit for the professor’s work) but it might be copyright infringement (depending on whether I used enough to violate “fair use” provisions. Contrariwise, I could take a passage from, oh, Bulfinch’s mythology and publish it as my own, without giving credit to the author. That wouldn’t be copyright infringement (as the copyright has lapsed) but it would be plagiarism.

–Fab, who doesn’t care to be thought willing to plagiarize because of his own poor phrasing

I’ve always been very fond of the Spanish word for winter–invierno. It’s root word is invernar, which means to hibernate. More than that though, I like it because it sounds like inferno, and I think that’s very nice because sometimes winter isn’t so much cold as burning cold. Well, and the hell-freezes-over-thing.

Summer in Spanish is verano and spring is primavera, which I’m also fond of. (It’s also the word for primrose.) I think it sounds like “first truth,” but it doesn’t really mean anything of the sort. Taking the words for the seasons from another language probably isn’t the best way to go, but it’s someplace to start with the verbal gymnastics.

The OED gives me the following spellings for winter: wintra (CE 888), wintre (1250), wyntre (1377), wyntir (1450), wyntur (1460). Everything after that is pretty much the spelling we’re used to. I’ve got to run right now, but if you’d like to pursue that vein with any other words and don’t have access to the OED, let me know. I’m just filling time between finals this week.

Why not terms that make reference to the Phoenix, like “Long Flight” for summer and “Short Flight” for winter, or “Fast Flight” and “Slow Flight”?

Coldfilth? Chillfilth? Hiberfilth?
Germinal, gestate, burgeon, harbinglife?
Hmm…now I know why I am not a fantasy novelist. I’ll stick with my murder mystery (if I ever finish it).

Maybe go to Latin roots and combine them in odd ways.

Good luck!

Hey, I wasn’t suggesting she just lift Tolkien’s calendar of course, just that it was an interesting calendar that was invented to fit into a fantasy world. Meaning that the calendar can’t be today’s Gregorian calendar, but it should evoke whatever setting it’s supposed to be from. So Tolkien’s calendar is all Anglo-Saxon in flavor. You don’t want to just take an ancient calendar either, but use words that sound like they could have been used then.

Also, don’t forget that not every calendar should have four seasons. Some could have 2 or 3 or 5 or 6. And spring-summer-fall-winter doesn’t really work in the tropics. There you might have rainy season, dry season. Or you in cold climates you might have winter, breakup, blooming, harvestl, and locking. And give the seasons pseudo-latin or pseudo-norse names.

I’ve got Wintertide and Springtide other than archaic spellings, that’s all I have immediate access to:

Wait, maybe Gaelic will help:

errach is Spring

gheimhreadh is Winter

These gems brought to you by:


Don’t know if you can use that, but there it is.

::checking that penis is still attached:

::checking that I’m still interested in checking out the legs of the hot girl two tables away::

Just for the record, I’m a guy. A straight guy, even. I’m downloading porn even as we speak.

Okay, so I’m actually downloading chicken recipes. That’s KIND OF like porn, you bastards. :wally

An English-Gaelic dictionary—pure-d-brilliant.

anybody know if there’s a comparable reference for old english or medieval french?

Given the cosmology you’ve described, why would your world have seasons at all? Or even months as we know them? Does your flatland tilt back and forth? Does the Phoenix alter its behavior over time? If so, how and why? Is there a reason for your “moon” to wax and wane over the course of a month? Also, there’s a tangentially related question–does the Phoenix fly east-to-west one day, then back west-to-east the next, or does it circle around out of sight?

I’m not picking on your world design–it’s a neat idea–these are just the kind of questions I ask when I’m designing a world with non-standard cosmology. Answering them might gives you some direction on a calendar. Tenar’s suggestions look like a good starting point. To expand on them, you might call summer “The Slow” and winter “The Swift”. That would lead to an oddly contradictory name for fall–“The Quickening”, a possible source of entertaining confusion for your protagonists. Spring might be “The Slowing”.

Considerations like these can offer little touches of verisimilitude, too. If the Phoenix lands on a mountain at noon, then it’s obviously much closer to the world’s surface than the sun is to ours. That means that its light will not be arriving in effectively parallel rays, like our sun’s. In our world, shadows almost disappear at noon, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case in your world. At noon, objects east of the mountain would have shadows stretching out to the east, for example. Since your main characters are from our world, that could mess with their sense of time.

Just some thoughts from a finicky world-builder. :slight_smile:

By your command:


not very full --spring is given as lecten but I think it refers to a physical spring as opposed to the season.

There’s another here:


Finally, there’s a free downloadable dictionary with many many word lists available at:


It’s Old English-English gives Springan for Spring and Wintertid for Winter Time (Winter is, alas, simply Winter)

Couldn’t find a medieval french plug in though.

How about the adjective brumal, meaning wintry?

Well, for one thing, in the Fabulous Plane the days are LONGER in the wintertime, not shorter. The Phoenix grows weary as the year moves into winter, and its passage across the sky is slower.