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    Re: Etymology of "loom"?
    From: John Huth
    Date: 2009 Sep 12, 13:32 -0400

    George -

    That's exactly why I asked.   I started paging through the literature for quotes about my understanding of "loom" which matched yours, and I began to come upon references to the term as a mirage or product of refraction,which seems to be the original usage.   

    As far as I can tell, the idea of seeing something over the horizon was the more common aspect of atmospheric refraction and the idea of looming lights came up later, but was associated with the term, since it is an "over the horizon" phenomenon.     I suppose that it's possible that at some point, people attributed the sky-glow of lights with the original meaning of looming by accident and it stuck.

    So, after doing similar searching, I agree with Frank that this appears to be the origin.    David Lewis also talks about "looming" in the context of the visibility of an island during the day over the horizon from a different coloration of the sky in the direction of the island. 

    Language evolves - and it's evolution is a fascinating topic.   I'm glad I dug into this little nugget as I really learned something.

    John H.


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