Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
2  
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
3  
+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
add comment

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.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.