on a windswept night

This_Is_Patrick

Senior Member
Parsi
Hello everybody.
I saw an example from Longman that arouse a question in my mind. The expression is "On a windswept night...". I have looked up windswept in a couple of dictionaries and have seen heterogeneous examples. The question is that can this word be collocated with day/night? Does this expression sound natural and correct to you? Despite the fact that this word is mostly collocated with place, there is an example from Longman saying "Light a candle here on a windswept night, and you might just catch a glimpse of him" which doesn't sound meaningful to me. I think instead of that it should have been said, on a windy day/night ....
What do you think about it?
windswept | meaning of windswept in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE
windswept | Definition of windswept in English by Oxford Dictionaries
Thank you in advance.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The question is that can this word be collocated with day/night?
    Yes. It is a completely normal collocation.
    I think instead of that it should have been said, on a windy day/night ....
    What do you think about it?
    I think that English has a large vocabulary that enables speakers to express ideas very precisely.

    In English, there are very, very few true synonyms. "Windswept" does not bring the same image to the mind as "windy."
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I agree that windswept usually gets collocated with scenery or buildings but I would not find windswept night unacceptable, it’s certainly not “meaningless”.

    It more of a literary flourish. Who can light candles in the wind?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think that's a good catch, This_is_Patrick. A night can't be windswept, and I don't think it's an effective image in context:

    No place captures the atmosphere of the Old Pueblo quite as well as the modest El Tiradito shrine, right next to El Minuto Cafe downtown. (See this issue's cover photo.)The story is that back in the late 1800s a philandering railroad worker was caught by a cuckolded husband and chopped to pieces. To add insult to injury, the husband then scattered those pieces along the Southern Pacific tracks leading to Mexico, thus leading to the name El Tiradito, "the little castaway," and, ultimately, to the only shrine devoted to a sinner in the entire Southwest. Light a candle there on a windswept night, and you might just catch a glimpse of him.
    Cover Story: Ten Weird Things To Love About The Old Pueblo. (May 15 - May 21, 1997)
    The shrine is next to a cafe, downtown, which is not my idea of a windswept landscape.
     

    This_Is_Patrick

    Senior Member
    Parsi
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I have heard this expression in this very forum, too. But I haven't already been convinced that the expression is plausible. At least, it doesn't work for me as a non-native speaker.
    In English, there are very, very few true synonyms.
    I agree with you on that @PaulQ .
    I think that's a good catch, This_is_Patrick
    I take it as a compliment @velisarius . Thank you.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    A night can't be windswept,
    I'm sure it can...

    On a chilly, windswept day in January it might as well be a one-room schoolhouse. Some Do Care By Anne Colby, William Damon

    "windswept day" General Google Search


    "windswept night"
    If you have a very stable tripod, the tools that attach to the tripod are less likely to cause motion blur, but even these are bad news on a windswept night.Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark By Lance Keimig

    "windswept night" General Google Search

    "windswept morning"
    But the view given to me on this cold and windswept morning, as wraiths of mist swirl around me, is partly opaque. Relicts of a Beautiful Sea: Survival, Extinction, and Conservation in a ...
    By Christopher Norment.

    "windswept morning" General Google Search
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    For me, "windswept night" is fine, but in all of Paul's examples I think it could be replaced with "windy". However, I agree with him that "windswept" does not bring to mind the same image as "windy". With "windy", I imagine swirling winds, buffeting you unevenly in different directions; the usual usual winds we get in most places in Britain. "Windswept" points to winds parallel to the ground at a low level in one direction only. I only really associate these with plains and low-lying coastlands, since these are about the only places where the wind is likely to be constant in just one direction. I suppose it could be used for valleys as well, but "windswept" brings to mind flat ground rather than valleys, to my mind at least.
     
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