One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A very dry, dusty easterly or northeasterly wind on the West African coast, occurring from December to February.
- ‘It is subject to constant dust-laden winds variously known as sirocco, khamsin, simoom and harmattan.’
- ‘In winter the drying harmattan wind blows from the interior.’
- ‘The savanna lands (grassy plains) of the northern regions face harmattan (dust-laden) winds for four months each year.’
- ‘Rainfall records are spotty, but other worrisome developments - changes in flora and the more frequent appearance of harmattan dust - point to a serious decline in moisture levels.’
- ‘During the harmattan, a cool, dusty wind from the Sahara grays the skies.’
Late 17th century: from Akan haramata.
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