Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A violent gust of cold wind blowing seaward from a mountainous coast, especially in the Straits of Magellan.
  • n. A sudden gust of wind; a squall.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a strong gust of cold wind

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A whirlwind, or whirlwind squall, encountered in the Straits of Magellan.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sudden, violent squall of wind. Also spelled willywaw.

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Unknown (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Palin the williwaw is about to be unleashed out of the northland like a force of nature upon the political world and, few in the lower 48 know anything about the overwhelming power of a williwaw.

    McCain campaign adviser pushes back on Palin book

  • The "williwaw," sometimes called the "wooley," is one of the great terrors of Fuegian inland waters.

    The Land of Fire A Tale of Adventure

  • According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, a williwaw is a “violent gust of cold land air, common along mountainous coasts of high latitudes.”

    DAY OF DECEIT

  • Over a cocktail the admiral called a “williwaw,” the two left work behind and discussed personal matters.4

    DAY OF DECEIT

  • The ocean was peculiarly calm, cloaked in an uneasy, expectant hush Rogov had come to associate with the quiet before a williwaw.

    Arctic Fire

  • Gusting williwaw winds were already pounding the thin shelters, screaming through every tiny crack between the two sections mated to form a fragile barrier against the environment.

    Arctic Fire

  • On the afternoon of the tenth day on the island the sky clouded up and Mr. Gibney predicted a williwaw.

    Captain Scraggs or, The Green-Pea Pirates

  • "Right as a trivet! but -- have you ever heard of a williwaw, Peggy?"

    The Merryweathers

  • A full-blown williwaw will throw a ship, even without sail on, over on her beam ends; but, like other gales, they cease now and then, if only for a short time.

    Sailing Alone Around the World

  • But it was interesting to see, as I let go the anchor, that it did not reach the bottom before another williwaw struck down from this mountain and carried the sloop off faster than I could pay out cable.

    Sailing Alone Around the World

Comments

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  • Hmm, this is a common street name up here in Alaska, and there's an elementary school with that name, too. I never knew what it meant.

    July 20, 2011

  • ""How much I regret it, that I am not reputed to perform random acts of kindness," answered Gabriel, as coldly as he could, which was not much, for a natural distaste for all kinds of authority quickly gave him the williwas in such circumstances."
    Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat, p 30

    July 19, 2011

  • "All at once the sky is obscured and swirling snow fills the air. The Aleut has a name for this sudden storm. He calls it a williwaw. He simply crawls into the nearest shelter and waits for the elements to spend their fury. Then he crawls out and continues about his daily business. Naval ships do not find their task so simple. High winds mean disturbed seas...."
    —Thomas Helm, Ordeal by Sea: The Tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, 1963 (New York: Signet, 2001), 6

    November 12, 2008

  • 1.a.: a sudden violent gust of cold land air common along mountainous coasts of high latitudes.
    1.b.: a sudden violent wind
    2 : a violent commotion

    November 15, 2007

  • What a beauty.

    July 1, 2007

  • I MUST STEAL THIS WORD. WOW.

    March 25, 2007