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I ran across this phrase in The Cherry Orchard: "3 degrees of frost," and I assumed it was a colloquialism for 3 degrees AND frost, or something of the like. But I just ran into "45° of frost" elsewhere, so it is not a colloquialism and "of" does not represent "and," for that would be impossible, right?

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Gnawme, Daniel, jwpat7, Jasper Loy Feb 8 '12 at 1:42

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Hi Peter, welcome to ELU. I think your question might get closed as "general reference", but briefly - "x degrees of frost" simply means "x degrees below 0C" (i.e. - below the freezing point of water). –  FumbleFingers Feb 8 '12 at 0:57
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+1 to @FumbleFingers. Wikipedia to the rescue: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degree_of_frost –  Iszi Feb 8 '12 at 0:59
    
@Iszi: And +1 to you! Your Wikipedia link makes clear what I knew was missing from my comment - that to lots of older people (older than me, I mean!) 30° of frost means 2°F (32-30), which is actually only about -16°C. Positively balmy compared to -30°C! –  FumbleFingers Feb 8 '12 at 1:27
    
@FumbleFingers Who're you calling "older people"? You're nearly as old as my mother-in-law! We just happen to live on the other side of the pond. –  Iszi Feb 8 '12 at 2:21
    
@Iszi: Actually, I had in mind my own father - who's 90, and lives a couple of hundred miles north of me. We're having a bit of a cold snap here in the UK, and I was on the phone to him yesterday. I honestly don't recall, but he might easily have said "We had 10° of frost last night". I think in Centigrade, so if he had, I'd have assumed things were much worse up there than down here in the "Garden of England", where we only had 5° of frost. But thanks to you, next time I'll know he's just as cold, not "twice" as cold" (but you do feel the cold more when you're older, bless him! :) –  FumbleFingers Feb 8 '12 at 2:48
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