This is likely the world's smallest sky guide--a mere 1" x 5" inches. I found this simple and very old-fashioned illustration under "clouds" in my 1980 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.
I turned to the front of the book to see if I could discover thename of the illustrator. No credit is given to any illustrator, though the Editor in Chief notes that this edition includes 900 pictorial illustrations "selected not simply for their decorative function but particularly for their value in clarifying definitions."
How does Webster's define a cloud? There are six defintions for the noun and four for the verb. The first entry for the noun, the subject of my book, comes in two parts: "a visible mass of particles of water or ice in the form of fog, mist, or haze suspended usu. at considerable height in the air" and "a light, filmy, puffy, or billowy mass seeming to float in the air."
I love it. A visible mass seeming to float in the air. I got hung up on "seeming." We all talk about clouds floating by, but now someone is telling me they are not actually floating? I now have to admit I don't know what "floating" means. So I turn to that entry in my dictionary: "to rest on the surface of or be suspended in a fluid" and "to drift on or through as if on or through a liquid." Hah! So clouds do float. Or I guess I'd have to use air quotes here (how appropriate!) and say clouds "float."
Since I'm not a fan of air quotes, I need a better verb to describe what clouds are actually doing up there: Passing by. Rolling in. Forming. Rising. Dissipating. Deteriorating. Raining. Snowing. Shadowing. Confusing.
Back to the definition of clouds. The etymological notes tell me the noun cloud is often attributed to Middle English "rock" from Old English clud which is, oddly, akin to the Greek gloutos buttock.
And, in my exploration of Webster's this morning, I discovered that my treasured dictionary was produced by a staff that included ten Clerks and Typists (3 Mildreds, 1 Maude, 1 Esther, 1 Maureen, 1 Genevive, 1 Frances, 1 Francine, and 1 Catherine) and a Head of Typing Room, named Evelyn.
Yes, in addition to being a cloud freak, I am a word geek.