Is the word "perishing" used correctly here?


Is the word "perishing" being used correctly in this story?

So cold was she now that she could barely feel her hands and feet. The rain fell directly into her upturned face and freezing rivulets ran down her neck and under the collar of her dress, perishing her to the core.

The author says the word "perishing" is used in the UK to mean cold. But the story doesn't say something like "the perishing cold". It says the rain perished the girl, which doesn't sound right to me.

2 answers

2 defines perishing to be a British informal adjective meaning extremely cold. It is also synonym of "freezing".

link answered Jul 01 '12 at 06:06 Rahul Gupta Expert

You are right. My Oxford Online usually defaults to British English, but I'd reccently cleaned my browser caches, and the default was changed to US English.

Jeff PribylJul 01 '12 at 14:33

That's something new for me. Thanks!

TolleyJul 01 '12 at 16:26

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This usage is new to me. Being an American English speaker, I turned to my UK published resources to see if I could find something there. My Concise OED did not include this meaning. Oxford Online, which contains the full content of OED2 (but not all of the search features of the subscription version), did not include this sense for perishing either.


"Perishingly cold" did appear. Perhaps you author is confusing this usage of both words together for perishing alone. 

link comment answered Jun 30 '12 at 22:21 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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