Blizzard is probably the most used word to indicate a violent snowstorm. Despite its popularity the etymology of the term is quite unclear. Some well-known sources hint at its onomatopoeic sound as its possible origin. Can anyone offer a reliable story behind this term or just confirm its 'obscure' origin?
- strong, sustained snowstorm," 1859, origin obscure (perhaps somehow connected with blaze (n.1)); it came into general use in the U.S. in this sense the hard winter 1880-81. OED says it probably is "more or less onomatopœic," and adds "there is nothing to indicate a French origin."
Blizzard: (Oxford University Press):
In British rural speech, there existed a sound imitative complex blizz expressing the idea of great quickness. When the suffix -ard was added to it, the new word began to denote all kinds of things having an immediate effect on its victim, from “a gunshot” to “an intoxicating drink.”
Most records are from American English. In 1870, in Iowa, a violent snowstorm was called a blizzard. Storms and hurricanes travel fast. Today blizzard is an established part of the vocabulary of English. What else do we not know about its history? -