(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part I, Aberfan, chapter 5)

There are now five embalming stations around him doing the same. The formaldehyde fumes he usually enjoys are intense, even with all the leaded windows tilted open to the chill day.

I think to has a locative meaning there - tilted open to outside, where there is a chill day. It doesn't have a temporal meaning in this context, right?

  • 1
    Because a tilt window is a kind of window. To open it, you tilt it. There are all sorts of variations, ones that only tilt inwards or others that only tilt outwards. And the tilting can vary too: from the bottom, the top or side. European-style ones are called: turn and tilt windows. Please do google these windows. Instead of saying tilted open to the outside, she's literary and makes it: tilted open to the chill day [cold-ish air].
    – Lambie
    Apr 17 at 11:36
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    You can't tilt a window open to Friday, so a temporal meaning wouldn't make much sense. Apr 17 at 11:41
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    In this context, open to the chill day is circumlocution for wide open to the cold air outside (necessary because with so many dead bodies being treated at once, the formaldehyde fumes would otherwise be overpowering). That may be artistic license, though. I don't think the continental style "tilt" double-glazed windows appeared in Britain / Wales until long after Aberfan. Apr 17 at 11:52
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    @FumbleFingers - I think, from earlier questions, that this is happening in a church? 19th century leaded church windows sometimes have a panel in the centre that can be tilted open. Apr 17 at 12:44
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    No, it doesn't. The chill day just means the chilly weather that there was that day. Apr 17 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


I think this is simply a poetic variation of the stock phrase open to the weather.

day does not have a calendar sense there, but refers to what the day has brought (chill); and "open to" does not have a directional sense indicating that the windows tilt outward.

The windows are tilted open and admitting the chill.

If a theater's doors are "thrown open to the crowd" they could still be opening inward, not outward. It means that they are opened to admit the crowd.

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