an east wind was chivvying its self-important way across the North Sea

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susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi,

This passage in Julian Barnes's novel Talking It Over is very confusing. It reads,
"It was the end of the afternoon, an east wind was chivvying its self-important way across the North Sea, the sun was losing its heat, and most people had gone home. I stood alone on the beach . . ."

The Oxford dictionary online gives chivvy:
British. Tell (someone) repeatedly to do something. ‘an association which chivvies government into action’

The dictionary at dictionary.com, however, gives
chivvy
1. chevy

and then chevy
British.
verb (used with object), chevied, chevying.
1. to chase; run after.
2. to harass; nag; torment.
verb (used without object), chevied, chevying.
3. to race; scamper.
+ noun

But then the Oxford dictionary doesn't have these meanings of chevy. It only gives Chevy (also Chevvy) a Chevrolet car.

So are chivvy and chevy both used in BrE to mean "to chase, to scamper"?

Thank you!
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    the verb is apparently being used transitively:
    No problem. Much the same as "striding his way across the moor", "limping his way to the corner shop" or "staggering his way home from the pub".

    "Chivvy" started as a variant of "chevy" or "chivy" meaning "to chase" - transitive - or "to race, scamper" - intransitive (OED). I'd not seen the "chevy" spelling as a verb before I looked in the OED. All variants are believed to be modern, derived from "Chevy Chase" - a place in the Scottish Borders (the Cheviot Hills), not an American actor.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think "...its way across..." is incidental to the real "problem".

    He strode across the moor.
    He limped to the corner shop.
    He staggered home from the pub.

    All those are fine, but I have a problem with The wind chivvied across the sea.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I interpret it as meaning the wind making progress by blowing persistently, forcing its way over the sea, making inroads etc.
    However, I don't think that the author had a clear idea of exactly what the wind was doing.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I interpret it as meaning the wind making progress by blowing persistently, forcing its way over the sea, making inroads etc.
    However, I don't think that the author had a clear idea of exactly what the wind was doing.
    I think it goes perfectly with a "self-important wind" if you like that kind of style:)
     
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