The poet Les Murray offers me new words the way others would offer chocolates or lollies. There was a note of great satisfaction in his voice as he told me about his latest favourite, laze, or 'lava haze'. In the past he has been crushed when I have queried whether his discovery has any currency in Australian English, but he has worked out a good way around that. He hastens to say that he has already used the word in a poem. Well, if use in a poem by Les Murray is not sufficient proof of currency, what is?
So laze is in the news because of what is happening in Hawaii. As far as I can see, it does appear to be a blend of lava and haze. It occurs when molten lava falls into the sea, creating a plume of steam which is full of hydrochloric acid and tiny shards of volcanic glass. Very nasty.
Now I can go back and tell Les that the tiny pieces of glass are called Limu O Pele (Pele’s seaweed) and so named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, dance, wind, volcanoes and violence. He’ll like that!
It is a nice coinage with an interesting meaning, but it does not have much relevance for us in Australia.