Discussion in 'English Only' started by littepuppy1, May 26, 2018.

  1. littepuppy1 Member

    As this is being written, snow is falling in the streets of Boston in what weather forecasters like to call “record amounts.” I would guess by looking out the window that we are only a few hours from that magic moment of paralysis...Some people call them blizzards, others nor’easters. My own term is whoompers...

    This is from "The Whoomper Factor" by Nathan Cobb.

    Anyone could explain "whoomper" and "factor" to me?

    Thanks a million.
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Cobb tells us that "whoompers" are his personal name for blizzards (heavy snowstorms). A factor is something that affects something else, such as how efficiently a city functions. So the title should mean something like "The Blizzard Factor". I assume the book deals with how blizzards affect other things.
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  3. littepuppy1 Member

    What does "whoomp" itself mean?

    Thank you.
  4. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Nothing. People sometimes use that spelling to indicate the sound of an explosion, but it's not a real word.
  5. littepuppy1 Member

    So the author uses "whoomp" because snowstorm makes a sound of explosion?
  6. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    'whoomp' is the sound of a large object--say a cow--hitting the ground. A blizzard similarly drops tons of snow; heavy masses of it, onto a city.
  7. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Cow? For me the archetypal "whoomp" is the noise of a large pile of snow sliding off a roof. But this term is idiosyncratic, and for Cobb it's the wind and not the fallen snow.
  8. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    That's a nice image and appropriate sound. Thanks.
  9. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I've heard many a falling cow go whoomp ... but not ones in forests, obviously, as they don't make any sound at all.

    Seriously, though, whoomp for me is the sound made by lighting a bonfire that's been doused with petrol ~ kind of 'an explosion without a bang':)
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust

    Forms: Also whoomph, etc.
    (Expressing) a sudden, violent rushing sound, as when a quantity of flammable material bursts into flame. Cf. the synonymous woomph int. (n. and adv.)

    woomph, int. (n. and adv.)
    Forms: Also woomf.
    (Expressing) a sound similar to a ‘whoof’ (whoof int. 2) but with a deeper or more resonant component. Cf. the synonymous whoompf int.

    I'm not sure about the falling cow. Just how far does it have to fall to make a whoomph? In my experience cows very seldom fall, but I've seen bull-falls at rodeos which arguably have sufficient depth and resonance to qualify.
  11. littepuppy1 Member

    In the context Cobb says whoomper is silent,so is that sound of wind and or fallen snow?
  12. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I've experienced a few blizzards in my day. They aren't silent. When the wind starts blowing really hard during a heavy snowstorm, it makes a lot of noise. For that reason, I'm surprised to learn that Cobb says "whoompers" are silent.

    Periods of heavy snowfall can be silent, but those aren't "blizzards" or "whoompers".
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  13. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    Cobb states that "whoomper" is his own term. That means that Cobb invented this word. Unless Cobb tells us, we do not know why he uses "whoomper" for this meaning. We can only guess.

    My guess is that Cobb invented "whoomper" as a variation on the real word "whopper", which means "something very big". It would be normal to call a very intense snowstorm (a blizzard) "a whopper".

    We also do not know exactly what "whoomper" means, unless Cobbs explains it. I found this quote by someone who read Cobbs' article:

    "Cobb wants a real whoomper; complete with overturned cars and public transportation stopped in its tracks. He says it is not a real whoomper unless Logan Airport closes for at least six hours."

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