What Does Wuthering Mean?

Updated 8 November, 2023
Emily Brontë explained the origin of the word 'wuthering' in the novel itself: 'Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr Heathcliffe's dwelling. "Wuthering" being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed, in stormy weather.
Detailed answer:

The obsolete Scottish and dialectal English verb whither is from an assumed Old Norse verb hviðra, related in the same language to the noun hviða, denoting a squall of wind. Also used as a noun, whither referred primarily to a violent movement.
The Bronte sisters, who were from Yorkshire, used the verb and noun wuther to refer to a blast of wind. At the very beginning of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Mr. Lockwood explained: “Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.” 'Heights,'' in this case, refers to the house's location at the top of a hill, where the weather is almost always terrible, dark, and windy. By naming her novel after the haunted house she's writing about, Bronte places Wuthering Heights in that Gothic horror tradition. Readers that were familiar with the popular examples of the genre would have an idea of what to expect from the book just from its title.
So, "Wuthering" – meaning quite literally "windy" or "blustery"– sets the scene for the volatile, often-stormy-passionate relationships in the novel, but it also sets the stage with the feeling of isolation and mystery.

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