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Lithuanian – Lithuania
Hi everyone,

I have a semantic question about a phrase from H. P. Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" which I am translating:

"Led by my thoughts, my eyes turned downward to the powdery road surface which had held such hideous testimonies" [i.e. some ugly footprints, which he calls "dust tracks" in the next paragraph]

My question concerns the word "powdery". Is it safe to say that this is a way to describe dust? If so, how straightforward is it? Is it pretty much the same as "dusty"? Or is it more poetic, an implicit simile, as in "powder-like dust"?
  • Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've never heard a road surface described as "powdery".

    Maybe the writer wanted to emphasise that the road surface itself was powdery, not merely that the road surface was covered with dust from elsewhere. Or perhaps completely covered with powder, not merely "dusty".

    Bear in mind that "The Whisperer in Darkness" is science fiction so perhaps"powdery" suggests something stranger than merely "dusty".

    As the author is an American writer, you will probably get better advice from someone more familiar with H. P. Lovecraft than I am.


    Senior Member
    English - United States
    As Linkway says, it's unusual to describe dust as "powdery"; not incorrect, just unusual. The author refers to the same road as "dusty" in the preceding paragraph. I assume that he was simply trying to avoid writing "dusty road" again.
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