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2:29pm on Saturday, 2nd March, 2013:



Roke is an East Yorkshire dialect word meaning a mist that comes off the sea (usually very quickly). It can hang around all day, leaving coastal towns in fog when three miles further inland it's glorious sunshine. Like many East Yorkshire dialect words, it's Scandinavian in origin (from a root meaning "smoke" — the same one that gives us the word "reek" and the first syllable of "Reykjavik").

I wanted to use the word today in a formal capacity, so figured I ought to look up how to spell it. I've always assumed it was roke, but it could have been roak or roake or rowk or gawd knows what else.

The first web site Google gave me was wordnik, which confirmed that the spelling was indeed roke and it did mean "mist; smoke; damp". However, it went beyond that and presented a list of helpful examples culled mainly from professional web sites.

Hmm. This is what it came up with:

"As the Catholic blogosphere exploded with theories and accusations against the priest, Euteneuer b roke the official silence with an admission of moral failing during his performance of an exorcism."
The Huffington Post: Roger Bianchini: Controversy Remains After Priest's Confession Of Sexual Indiscretion During Exorcism

"No wonder they serve roke-ben instead of good craft services."
Néojaponisme >> Blog Archive >> The Jimusho System: Part One

"XXX on Jun 22, 2008 sorry aout the typo key oard roke"
First Look: Pixar's Presto Short Sneak Peek << FirstShowing.net

"An example of what would be lost is a column by Peter S. Canellos, the paper's Washington bureau chief, titled "In a S.roke of Brilliance, Obama Defies Easy Caricature":"
The Wall Street Journal: Accentuate the Negative

"We're in the process of packing all the loot and pasalubong (yes, we are bah-roke, not that we had that much to begin with) into balikbayan boxes."
Archive 2004-10-01

"It's a song you put on here by Rokia (pronounced roke-ee-ah) -- Or is it Rokia (pronounced roh-key-ah)?"
NPR: Audiostiles.com Picks Tunes For You

" The moment the nose of the machine l/roke through the last remaining barrier, a red light flashed outside the control shack and an alarm bell started ringing."
Tom Swift Jr And His Atomic Earth Blaster

"Foller yez in behint, f'r th 'thrail'll be fair br-roke."
The Promise A Tale of the Great Northwest

"Wave after wave of wet salt air was rolling in from the sea, pressing upon that which travelled slowly inland, so that the roke grew very dense, and the little house seemed to be cut off from all the world."
The Privet Hedge

"The sea-roke lasted for nearly two days and then lifted, the damp, chill air giving place to cloudless sunshine."
The Privet Hedge

So, that's: a typo; a Japanese word; a joke; a mis-scanning (the original article uses Stroke); an emphasis; a pronunciation guide; another scanning error, another emphasis; two actual uses of the word correctly (from the same source).

Hmm. Dictionaries are usually either prescriptive (enormity means terribleness, irregardless isn't a word) or descriptive (enormity means enormousness, irregardless means regardless). I can see why compilers of the latter may wish to illustrate contemporary usage by scraping web sites automatically, but it might be an idea to remove an example from the list if it doesn't have a space immediately before the word in question or if it does but has a lone consonant in front of the space.

Looks like roke is right, anyway.

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