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I'm trying to think of a word that describes the capacity of an object to be carried away by wind. In particular, I would like to know if there is an adjective that indicates an object could be easily moved in this way.

For example, I would want to be able to fill in the blank in the following sentence: "That umbrella is too ___ for you to let go of it in this wind."

  • "Prone"? "This object is prone to be carried away by the wind." – ralph.m Sep 30 '18 at 2:21
  • Thanks @ralph.m, that's useful to know. Still, I am hoping for a single adjective that comes closer to indicating the whole idea "prone to being blown away by the wind." – Jakoto Sep 30 '18 at 2:30
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    @ralph.m "prone" is a good word but I would always say "prone to being carried". – Chappo Says Reinstate Monica Sep 30 '18 at 2:35
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    @Chappo yeah, meant to edit that but missed it within the edit time window. Sorry for any confusion. ...also just noticed "flimsy" is referenced in the only answer thus far. Deleting the comment. – BruceWayne Sep 30 '18 at 4:53
  • @Makoto. Oh, I see. I misunderstood. I can't think of a word that could fulfill that, but you could fill the blank with "delicate". @Chappo—yes, good point. Maybe I was thinking of "liable". :-) – ralph.m Sep 30 '18 at 11:25
3

blowy

readily blown about: blowy desert sand.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blowy

easily blown about: flimsy, blowy curtain material.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/blowy

A blowy, corn-colored curl caught like a tendril and curled round the brim. (Hurst, Fannie)

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/blowy

Note: Blowy also means windy (see first definitions in links above).

The adjective blowy is used to describe items such as umbrellas and tents (which are easily carried away by the wind if not properly secured), but building materials such as roof shingles and awnings are susceptible to wind damage (US, SE Region).

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    By contrast 'blowy' is used in the UK to describe the weather conditions as in "it's a bit blowy today". It's not used very frequently but it is never used in the UK to describe objects. If you said "That folding chair is too blowy for this exposed situation" to an English person they would struggle to know what you meant. – BoldBen Sep 30 '18 at 20:43
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    I honestly didn't expect to see an answer that I would be 100% satisfied with. You make dreams come true @KannE. – Jakoto Oct 1 '18 at 0:32
  • +1 I'm sure the only reason people are downvoting this is because they feel it is misleading; I hadn't heard blowy used in this sense before (BrE, broad strokes) but was glad to learn it. If you edited to include the sense @BoldBen mentions as a caveat, I'd guess you'd get more votes. Incidentally, Lucy and Tom aside, it seems there is an Atlantic divide on this one. Compare US: having or affected by strong winds; windy or windswept and UK: windy or windswept. – tmgr Oct 1 '18 at 10:05
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    That's not a blowy umbrella in your Lucie and Tom quote, it's a blowy umbrella shot. IE a photo taken under blowy conditions with an umbrella used as a prop. Exactly what I said. I was brought up just over the Derbyshire border from Sheffield and I've never heard blowy used to describe an object. – BoldBen Oct 2 '18 at 6:05
  • @KannE It's ambiguous to an American but not to a Brit, thanks for taking me seriously. Two nations divided by a single language again! – BoldBen Oct 28 '18 at 9:06
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Whether something is likely to blow away or not depends on both its weight and surface area. For larger surface areas an object needs to be heavier to be less likely to be blown away. In regular conversation, however, only the weight side of the equation is mentioned (probably because umbrellas need a lot of surface area).

Thus, the word you should use is either light or lightweight. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Alternatively, you can instead describe the wind as being too strong.

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    I really like your answer @Laurel because you hit on exactly what most English speakers would do in conversation. – Jakoto Sep 30 '18 at 20:23
  • Not precise enough. A light object may be ultra-streamlined. Or nailed down. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 25 at 15:00
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Insubstantial.

a : lacking substance or material nature
b : lacking firmness or solidity : FLIMSY

MW

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    "Flimsy" isn't a good word for this. You can have a flimsy building. An object's susceptibility to being carried by wind is more a consequence of things like shape and density than how sturdy or flimsy it is. – user2357112 supports Monica Sep 30 '18 at 6:55
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    Flimsy was my first thought too. – moonstar Sep 30 '18 at 14:53
  • @user2357112 I hear what you say about a "flimsy building", but I still think "flimsy" is a good word here - but not the only one. There are of course degrees of flimsiness. Most buildings are solid and firm, therefore a "flimsy" one is less so. But it doesn't mean it is so flimsy that it could blown away in the wind. Susceptibility to being blown away in the wind, as you rightly point out is a function of various things, of which flimsiness is just one. I don't think there is a single word which means "blowable away". – WS2 Oct 27 '18 at 7:17
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Not a single word, not an adjective, but catch the wind is relevant, idiomatic and standard English.

In your example sentence, you'd have to rephrase a little:

That umbrella catches the wind too much to let go of it.

Or maybe, to retain more of the flavour of your original:

That umbrella catches too much in this wind for you to let go of it.

It's difficult to find a dictionary entry for catch that covers this use precisely - after all, it's no more than the usual sense of catch meaning capture.

However it's easy to come across specific examples in a Google Books search. For instance:

Mechanic's Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal & Gazette (1826) p90

It is therefore evident, that whichever vane catches the wind, it is forced downwards towards the perpendicular, and in that position recedes, and is succeeded by the next...


14 Fun Facts about Blue Whales, Caitlind L. Alexander

The word sail means a cloth that catches the wind and helps to move a boat...


Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America, Steve N. G. Howell (2012)

Then it tilts again and catches the wind to sail up, then glide down, on and on. If the wind is not strong enough, or the flight direction is not perfectly matched to wind direction, the bird often compensates or corrects by flapping a little...


Blizzards, Michael Woods, ‎Mary B. Woods (2007) p30

A simple anemometer catches the wind in three cups. The wind spins the cups. The stronger the wind is, the faster the cups spin...

If you're prepared to rephrase your sentence a little, catch the wind should do the job and sound natural, without being in any way ambiguous, confusing or awkward.

(On the downside, Catch the Wind is also the name of a highly Dylan-derivative Donovan single from 1965, which is an oddly appropriate choice of name for a song where you're attempting to ride on someone else's musical coat-tails.)

  • That's a verb, the OP's example sentence is looking for an adjective. – ChrisW Sep 30 '18 at 17:51
  • @ChrisW I have edited the first line so it clearly states that catch the wind is not an adjective, with my apologies for any confusion this may have caused. – tmgr Sep 30 '18 at 18:16
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    Even though it doesn't completely fit the bill, I think "catch the wind" is a very succinct alternative, and I'm really glad you brought it up @tmgr. – Jakoto Sep 30 '18 at 20:12
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For a single word I'd try "volatile" (i.e. liable to blow away or fly away) -- though that's not the usual meaning of the word, I think someone might understand if you said e.g. "that tent is volatile!"

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volatile

    • characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change

      a volatile market

    • unable to hold the attention fixed because of an inherent lightness or fickleness of disposition
    • tending to erupt into violence : EXPLOSIVE

      a volatile temper

    • easily aroused

      volatile suspicions

    • LIGHTHEARTED, LIVELY
  1. readily vaporizable at a relatively low temperature
  2. difficult to capture or hold permanently : EVANESCENT, TRANSITORY
  3. flying or having the power to fly

I assume it's from the French voler i.e. the verb "to fly" (also now "to steal"), the Latin volare,

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You could take on yourself the capacity to enlarge the language and use the word "blowable" which is obviously correct and readily understood.

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