a wind as sharp as an icepick whined in narrow, rocky defiles.

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
He had dreamed he was in some dark and stony place –needle-tipped mountains sawed at a black sky strewn with cold stars, and a wind as sharp as an icepick whined in narrow, rocky defiles.
Source: The Tommyknockers by Srepjen King

What does the bolded phrase mean? In particular, defiles. Does it mean the wind sounded like an icepick on a rock?

Thank you
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A wind is described as "sharp" when it is very cold and fast (and, often but not always) in an enclosed area - a sharp wind gives the impression that it can pierce clothing. A sharp wind is always uncomfortable.
    An icepick is described as "sharp" when its point is sharp and can easily pierce ice.

    These meanings of "sharp" have been joined together to form a simile.

    "A wind as sharp as a knife cut through his clothes and chilled his skin."
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A defile is a narrow, steep valley, so wind going through it would produce a sound that could be described as a whine.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. How does a defile differs from a canyon or gorge (valley with steep sides)?
    Is the whining sound similar to screeching sound?
    How did you come to interpret that he felt the piercing wind?
    Thank you again.
     
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