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Word for Wednesday: Flood

The recent bad weather in England has got us thinking about the word flood

A flood is when water overflows and submerges land that is normally dry. While the word is normally used in reference to the weather, it can also be used to describe an overwhelming amount of something fluid or intangible (for example, memories, information, or tears).

Flood comes from the Old English ‘flōd’ which in turn comes from the Proto-Germanic ‘floduz’ meaning ‘flowing water or deluge’. The word has been used metaphorically to mean ‘sudden abundance’ since the mid-fourteenth century. 

From floods of tears, to being flooded with memories, to opening the floodgates, this week’s watery word is one that English speakers seem to find very evocative. In fact – it’s not just English speakers. The flood motif can be found in myths from many cultures all over the world, often as part of creation stories such as that of Noah’s Ark in Genesis. In such stories, a great flood – that’s usually sent by a deity of some kind – wipes out a civilisation. Often a hero survives as a symbol of hope and life to come. From Philip Pullman to Margaret Atwood, these stories have served as inspiration for many contemporary writers too. You can find a list of flood myths from around the world here.

09 Oct 2019
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