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2017 Word of the Year

mackerel sky

noun
1.
an extensive group of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds, especially when well-marked in their arrangement: so called because of a resemblance to the scales on a mackerel.
Origin of mackerel sky
1660-1670
First recorded in 1660-70
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mackerel sky
Historical Examples
  • The form known as the “mackerel sky” is not represented there.

    The Philosophy of the Weather Thomas Belden Butler
  • The sky was what is called a mackerel sky--rows and rows of faint down-plumes of cloud, just tinted with the midsummer sunset.

    The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells
  • There was a mackerel sky, with the clouds dropping on the mountain-tops till you could hardly say which was which.

  • It was a mackerel sky of a very bold and extraordinary kind—not a dish of mackerel, but a world of mackerel!

  • "You can generally count on that mackerel sky furnishing a rain," he said.

  • I have never met with ten persons who applied even the term “mackerel sky” to the same precise form of cirro-stratus.

    The Philosophy of the Weather Thomas Belden Butler
  • Another form that the cirro stratus may assume is the mackerel sky,—clouds with the light and shade of the scales of a fish.

    Reading the Weather

    Thomas Morris Longstreth
  • The old proverb, “mackerel sky, soon wet or soon dry,” expresses this uncertainty.

    Reading the Weather

    Thomas Morris Longstreth
British Dictionary definitions for mackerel sky

mackerel sky

noun
1.
a sky patterned with cirrocumulus or small altocumulus clouds
Word Origin
from the similarity to the pattern on a mackerel's back
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Value for mackerel

16
19
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