Tramontane (Tramuntana, Tramontana) is a classical name for a northern wind. The exact form of the name and precise direction varies from country to country. The word came to English from Italian "tramontana", which developed from Latin "trānsmontānus" ("trāns-" + "montānus"), "beyond the mountains/across the mountains". [cite book | author = Houghton Mifflin | authorlink = Houghton Mifflin | title = The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language | edition = 4th ed | publisher = Houghton Mifflin | date = 2000 | location = Boston and New York | pages = page 1831 | url = | isbn = 978-0-395-82517-4] This explains why in Italy, the tramontana is the north wind (because the Alps, at the northern end of Italy, are the mountains referred to). It also explains why the word has other non-wind-related senses: it can refer to anything that comes from, or anyone who lives on, the other side of mountains, or even more generally, anything seen as foreign, strange, or even barbarous.

it is a very strong wind. it is the more gentle version of the mastrel. in winter it brings cold air and in summer it brings clear blue skies and relief from heat. In French, the word also meant 'the north star', and thus was associated with the north wind.

The Tramontane (France)

The tramontane in France is a strong, dry cold wind from the north (on the Mediterranean) or from the northwest (in lower Languedoc, Roussillon, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. ). [ defined in the article Tramontane (vent) in the French-language Wikipedia (see external links).] It is similar to the mistral in its causes and effects, but it follows a different corridor; the tramontane accelerates as it passes between the Pyrenees and the Massif central, while the Mistral flows down the Rhone Valley between the Alps and the Massif central.

The tramontane is an example of a katabatic wind, which is created by the difference of pressure between the cold air of a high pressure system over the Atlantic or northwest Europe and a low pressure system over the Gulf of Lion in the Mediterranean. The high-pressure air flows south, gathering speed as moves downhill and is funnelled between the Pyrenees and the Massif central.

According to French sources, The name was used in its present form at the end of the 13th century by Marco Polo, in 1298. It was borrowed from the Latin "transmontanus" and the Italian "tramontana," meaning not just "across the mountains" but also "The North Star" (literally the star "above the mountains,") since the Alps marked the north for the Italians. The French term 'Tresmontaine,' cited as early as 1209 and still used in the 15th century, was borrowed directly from the Latin.

The word moved from Latin into French with the meanings "North Star" and also "the guide" In 1636 the French expression "perdre la tramontane" meant "to be disoriented." [Dictionnaire historique de la langue française" (Dictionnaires Le Robert 1998, tome 3 Pr-Z, page 3886) ] It was used in this sense by Moliere in his play "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme," where one character says "Je perds la tramontane" (I have lost my way.) [ It was used the same way in the 20th century by the poet/songwriter Georges Brassens, who in his song "Je suis un voyou" wrote "J'ai perdu la tramontane en perdant Margot..." (I lost my guiding star when I lost Magot...)]

The continuous howling noise of the tramontane is said to have a disturbing effect upon the psyche. In his poem "Gastibelza", Victor Hugo has the main character say: "Le vent qui vient à travers la montagne me rendra fou.." ("the wind which comes across the mountains drove me mad.")


In Catalonia the wind is called the Tramuntana. The wind also lends its name to the Serra de Tramuntana in Majorca.


In Italy it is called tramontana or sometimes garigliano. Interestingly, in Italy its etymology is still very much debated, and varies from region to region: on the Sorrento coast, for instance, reputedly, the name derives from the village Tramonti, from where, to an observer on the shore, the wind appears to blow after gathering pace down a narrow valley and, at the time when Flavio Gioia - believed by some historians to have perfected the sailors' compass - lived there in the XIV century and named the Mediterranean winds, the tramontana made it easier for fishing vessels to swiftly take to the sea and readily start their fishing campaigns. It is a northeasterly or northerly winter wind that blows from the Alps and Apennines (South of the Alps) to the Italian coast. It is very prevalent on the west coast of Italy and Northern Corsica. It is caused by a weather system from the west following a depression on the Mediterranean. It is strongest before sunrise, when it can reach speeds of 70 km/h (45 mph). It is a fresh wind of the fine weather mistral type.

References and Notes

See also

*Winds of Provence
* Another "beyond/across the X" name is "Transylvania", which means "beyond the forest".
*Mentioned in Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander",

External links

* [ Article on Tramontane in the French-language Wikipedia (in French)]
* [ Tramuntane at]
* [ Wind rose at the Catalan Government web site] ca icon

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • tramontane — [ tramɔ̃tan ] n. f. • 1549; tresmontaigne déb. XIIIe; it. tramontana (stella) « (étoile) qui est au delà des monts », lat. transmontanus 1 ♦ Vx Étoile polaire. Loc. fig. Perdre la tramontane : être désorienté, perdre le nord. 2 ♦ (déb. XIVe) Vent …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Tramontane (TV) — Tramontane (feuilleton télévisé) Feuilletons télévisés par période / genre / origine Liste complète Tramontane est un feuilleton télévisé français en 5 épisodes de 90 minutes, réalisé par Henry Helman sur un scénario de Georges Desmouceaux, Yvan… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • tramontane — TRAMONTANE. s. f. On appelle ainsi dans la Mediterranée ce qu on appelle Nord dans l Ocean, le Septentrion. Le vent de Tramontane. aller vers la tramontane. On dit fig. qu Un homme a perdu la tramontane, pour dire, qu Il ne sçait plus où il en… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Tramontane — Tra*mon tane, a. [OF. tramontain, It. tramontano, L. transmontanus; trans across, beyond + mons, montis, mountain.] Lying or being beyond the mountains; coming from the other side of the mountains; hence, foreign; barbarous. [1913 Webster] Note:… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tramontane — [tra män′tān΄, trəmän′tān΄; tra΄män tān′] adj. [It tramontano < L transmontanus, beyond the mountains < tra (see TRANS ) + mons (gen. montis), MOUNT1] located beyond or coming from beyond the mountains, specif. the Alps (from the viewpoint… …   English World dictionary

  • Tramontane — Tra*mon tane, n. One living beyond the mountains; hence, a foreigner; a stranger. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tramontane — (ital.), von jenseit der Berge, d. h. in Italien von Norden her wehender Wind, Nordwind; auch soviel wie Polarstern …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • tramontane — index stranger Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • tramontane — Tramontane, voyez Septentrion …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Tramontane — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Tramontane (homonymie). Rose des vents sur la Méditerranée1 …   Wikipédia en Français

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