The “C” in Arctic Stands for Cold!

While the blast of bitterly cold Canadian air will be the major weather story across the country for the next several days, I thought that it was a good time to correct a common pronunciation (and possibly spelling) error.

The first “c” in the word arctic is not silent. The word is pronounced ahrk-tik, not ahrt-tik. I know that countless meteorologists and reporters will say it incorrectly, and this common mistake will undoubtedly lead to more widespread acceptance and perhaps even a secondary spelling (artic). Do your part and add the extra c; remember that c stands for cold!

As an aside, we at do not believe that mistakes should be accepted just because they’re made often. If people add 2+2 and get 5, then we correct the mistake. We wouldn’t change it so that 2+2 equals both 4 and 5 just because the mistake is made frequently.

Capitalization of the term can be confusing as well. When it’s used as an adjective to describe cold, such as It was arctic cold last week, use a lower case a. When it’s being used to refer to the Arctic region, such as Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, which is in the Arctic, the a is capitalized.  Also, when describing the type of air mass as one from the Arctic region, such as The Arctic air mass resulted in high temperature of below 0 in Chicago, it is also capitalized.


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2 Responses to The “C” in Arctic Stands for Cold!

  1. Bob Skye says:

    Arctic is pronounced “arctic.”

    Reply: Yes, the c is pronounced, which was my point. I included the dictionary phonetic pronunciation.

  2. gillian says:

    Before the Renaissance, arctic was actually spelled (and pronounced) “artic”. It became fashionable at that time to change Middle English words back towards their Latin root’s spellings, so artic -> arctic, dette -> debt, etc. Now, I hate bad spelling and grammar more than most people, but I just thought I’d point out that this misspelling is unintentionally anachronistic.

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