Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bronto- Thunderclaps & Panic Attacks

Lightning, Storm, Brontophobia,
(photo by James Insogna)


Combining form of Greek bronte thunder.

Who doesn't thrill at the spectacle of a good thunderstorm? The heavy, humid air sizzling with suspense before a momentary streak of lightning illuminates the sky and a sonorous tumble of thunder fills your ears and vibrates your body. Few things have the power to make you feel as small, as utterly humbled, as does the power of a thunderstorm. It truly is something to be marvelled. And so that we can describe this breath-taking phenomenon, we have the beautiful combining form in English, bronto-, with which we can make thunder-related words. Surprisingly, the Shorter OED only lists four words that use the bronto- construction:

Noun Rare
The branch of knowledge that deals with thunder. M18

Irrational fear of thunderstorms. E20

[modern Latin, formed as Greek bronte thunder + sauros -SAUR.]
A large herbivorous sauropod dinosaur of the genus Brontosaurus
(or Apatosaurus), known as fossils of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

A titanothere, especially of the genus Brontotherium. L19


However, who would want to waste a good combining form by squandering the chance to add to the English language, especially when there are such gaping holes in our thunder-related vocabulary? Therefore, may I suggest the following urgent additions to our language:

To be truthful, I don't really know what this one is, but it just sounds so damn cool: Government by Thunder! Rrawrh!

Someone who habitually steals your thunder. You know who you are.

Noun. Psychology
An affliction that makes one do really stupid things during thunderstorms,
such as kite-flying, maypole dancing, TV aerial erecting and full-armour hilltop jousting.

My next door neighbour, who has wooden stairs, who habitually walks up and down them during 
my naps à la sauropod, and a particularly clumsy, heavy-footed, dim-witted sauropod at that. Git.

An artist's impression of my next door neighbour.
Are you a brontophobe, brontophile or brontoped?

Do you have any suggestions for other bronto words?

Do please clap your comments into the box below.


  1. When someone disagrees 100% with something he usually says a 'vrontero ohi' , a thunderous no. (In Greece)

    I hope you are ok!

    1. I love it, Evi - so celestial, so epic, so quintessentially Grecian!

      I'm good, thank you - I fell behind with the postings which is why the timings have been all over the place, but I think this weekend I will finally be back on track with the posts going out at 8am GMT. Phew.

  2. Brontoloquent - speaking in a thundering voice.
    Brontoloquist - one who speaks in a thundering voice!

    Maybe keep a list of all your coined words?! It would be very entertaining!

    1. Oh yes indeed - Brian Blessed springs to mind as a brontoloquist with a most brontoloquent (and hilarious) voice.

      And I do love making up words - I get as excited as a schoolboy when one of these combining forms pops up. Note them down I will - thank you Jingles.

  3. Hi, my name is Bibi. I'm 5'10", 24 years old, and I still hide under the covers when a thunderstorm passes over my house.

    1. But right before that I run all about the house unplugging every single electric and electronic device. I guess you could call that a bout of brontopanic. Or brontoverreaction.

    2. Aww. Poor ickle brontophobe Bibi ...

      And I do like 'brontoverreaction' - I wonder if its specifically an overreaction to thunderstorms, or could it be a particularly loud and tempestuous overreaction generally.

    3. It could be a combination: a particularly loud overreaction to thunderstorms.

      Or as illustrated by my lovely assistant... Wait, it's just me. Still: "Waaaaah!! Thunder!! Unplug all the things!! Waaaaaaah!! We're all gonna diiiieeee!!"

  4. Brontocide - murder, specifically of ed's neighbour, or Thor.

    Brontocidal - murderousness, specifically of ed towards ed's neighbour (especially if it's Thor)

    Brontopathy - alternative therapy involving thunder, gullibility and lots of money.

    Brontoscopy - surgical removal of one's extrovertishness.

    Brontosexual -don't know, and don't want to know, how that might need to be a word.


    1. I don't really know what a brontosexual is either, but I'm pretty sure I want to be one. Imagine being able to say that.

      "Nah, baby - I'm a brontosexual. Know what I'm sayin'?"

      "Not really."

      "Oh. Right. Neither do I. I just read it on some dictionary blog somewhere."

      "Right. Don't call me again."


  5. I usually pay a visit to my nearest bronteopathist if I'm not feeling quite right or suffering a vague sense of unease. You can't beat the healing power of thunder. Especially if you're feeling a bit under the weather!
    *humble apologies*

    1. Damn you, Alternative Nerd! I laughed out loud at that joke - yes - I LOL'd, and now I'm angry at not only LOLing at all, but also LOLing at a joke that should have been unLOLable. Damn your eyes!

  6. Bronstopation - like constipation but oh so much worse.


    1. Oh C. And I had so valiantly stayed away from the fart jokes during this post ...

      But seriously - you wouldn't want to be standing behind a bronstopated brontosaurus without an umbrella, wouldn't you?

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