I read this in Word by Word by Kory Stamper:

It will be 3 p.m. on a Wednesday in April; you will glimpse preternaturally sunny weather through the silver of window near your desk; the shouts of children walking home from school will sound both alien and familiar; cool, metallic panic will slide down your gullet and wave up at you from your stomach.

I couldn't find any definition of "metallic" fitting into this context. I also don't understand what "wave up" and "silver of window" means here. Could anyone help me out?

  • 2
    That a sliver (a thin slice), not silver (a precious metal). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 7 '19 at 11:35
  • "Wave up" is used metaphorically in this passage. The author is treating the "panic" like a conscious being. The panic "will slide down your gullet [your throat] and wave up at you from your stomach." In other words it goes down into your stomach, looks up at you from down there, and waves its "hand" (metaphorically) as if to say, "Hi there! Here I am!" Can't tell for sure from the context, but it sounds like the panic is something from the author's past, and possibly a memory of it is triggered by "the shouts of children walking home from school" (they sound "both alien and familiar") – Lorel C. Jul 7 '19 at 14:11

This isn't a common idiom. The author is using figurative language to try to communicate the feeling of panic. "Metallic" just means "like metal" beyond that the meaning is a matter of poetry.

A sliver is a thin slice. There is a very narrow window next to the desk, or only a narrow part of the window is visible from the desk

"Waves" mean "a sudden occurrence of or increase in a phenomenon", the feeling of panic comes on suddenly and increases quickly, and it feels as if it is coming from the belly.

(I don't know if it is relevant but epileptic fits often begin with a metallic taste in the mouth, or so I am told)

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