precipitous weir

Jagorr

Senior Member
Russian, Belarusian
What image would the words precipitous weir evoke?

This is a phrase from a lyric to Absinthe with Faust by Dani Filth:

Come my friend, to fate let's raise
Two finger shots at this our last soiree
For tomorrow I fear
Swoops all too deadly near
This precipitous weir to Hell's high gate



1) From what I get, a weir does not make the water level differ so much as to call it precipitous, as distinct from a dam or form a waterfall - which can but of course do not need to be huge.
2) And then, does weir refer only to the construction itself or not? If it does, then can you call construction precipitous?
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I guess a weir can be precipitous inasmuch as it's probably tricky to walk across one, and should you slip and fall on the 'wrong' side, you could get swept downstream, and in this metaphorical context, towards the Gates of Hell. :eek:
     

    anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I am inclined to think that Dani Filth wasn't overly concerned with whether or not the "weir" in question (a word that, somehow in my 30-odd years, I am encountering here for the first time) might adequately conform to the typical construction specifications of your average weir. Besides, perhaps we might give poetic license and allow for a weir outside the gates of Hell to be a bit more precipitous than is desirable? But in any case, it seems to me that the word was chosen simply because it rhymes with "fear" and "near."
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    A dam is not the only definition of a weir.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_weir
    A fishing weir, fish weir, fishgarth[1] or kiddle is an obstruction placed in tidal waters, or wholly or partially across a river, to direct the passage of, or trap fish.

    It's the first meaning that I thought of when I read the word.

    Imagine a weir directing people's paths to Hell's high gate. It does make some sense.

    But reading it in the context of the sentence, it doesn't seem a great fit, depending on the meaning of precipitous. If it means literally "high/steep" it doesn't fit, but if "precipitous" means figuratively dangerous, it might.

    WR dictionary (one definition)
    precipitous

    happening quickly or suddenly;
    precipitate.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Like heypresto, I see no problem with a weir being precipitous; it is, after all, just a dam that water is meant to flow over the top of, and they can be quite high. However I do wonder at the association of water and Hell, and the mention of a gate together with a weir makes me think of a canal lock. Here's a pretty one (lock gates on the left, weir on the right). Not exactly my idea of Hell. :)

    30242
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    I get the feeling when reading This precipitous weir to Hell's high gate the author is saying the weir (that which separates us from the dangers of hell) is high and the fall is a long way down to the high gates of hell. Just my opinion.
     

    Jagorr

    Senior Member
    Russian, Belarusian
    But reading it in the context of the sentence, it doesn't seem a great fit, depending on the meaning of precipitous. If it means literally "high/steep" it doesn't fit, but if "precipitous" means figuratively dangerous, it might.
    Figuratively, or even poetically, can something that is not high be called precipitous? Say, a whirlpool, a river, a quicksand shore?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Figuratively, or even poetically, can something that is not high be called precipitous?
    Of course - a precipice/precipitous are almost neutral as far as height is concerned. - all that is required is that the object be steep or vertical.
    The word comes from the idea of a disastrous fall - height helps, but is not key.
    What image would the words precipitous weir evoke?
    A point at which a fall would be disastrous and from which there is little chance of a return.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Figuratively, or even poetically, can something that is not high be called precipitous? Say, a whirlpool, a river, a quicksand shore?
    To add to PaulQ's reply, I don't think a whirlpool or quicksand could be called precipitous as they aren't steep. Some aspects of a river certainly could be (banks and waterfalls, for example). Both the weir and brick edges in the picture in post #5 are precipitous, although they are not particularly high.
     
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