• Paul Anthony Jones

Rone

(n.) a glassy patch of ice formed by the refreezing of melted snow



When snow melts, freezes solid again, and become a glassy, slippery patch of ice, that patch is a rone.



Although listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, this is chiefly a dialect term confined to the Scots, North Country and northern dialects of England in particular. Indeed the English Dialect Dictionary defines a rone as “a sheet of ice, esp[ecially] ice found on the road in consequence of the congelation of running water or of melted snow”—and then illustrates its point with a suitably dramatic old Scottish folk rhyme, “He slippit his foot on a rone i’ the brae, / An’ crippl’d for life was Charlie Hay.”


As any self-respecting Scot will undoubtedly tell you that a rone is also a downspout, a piece of guttering, or some similar conduit for channelling rainwater away from a building. Although this meaning is more than a century younger than the earlier wintry meaning (which has been traced back to the 1530s, the downspout only as far as the mid 1700s), there is enough of an overlap here to suggest these two words are related.


Both, in fact, probably have their origins in Scandinavia, but are related via Old Norse to the same ancient Germanic root as the word run—here used in relation to the running of a stream or watercourse. It’s just that in the case of the rone that concerns us here, that flow of water has since become frozen. And perilous, for that matter—just ask Charlie Hay.

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