The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

How many words are there for snow?

Let it snow, let it sposh, let it skift. Believe it or not, these words all mean the same thing – snow. Our word comes from the Old English ‘snaw’, but there are hundreds of other snowy terms around the world. It’s a common myth that Inuits have 50 words for snow, and the Scots actually have over 400. Read on for some of our favourites.

How many words are there for snow?
  • Crump: Dating back to the 17th century, this is the oh-so-satisfying crunching sound you make when you step into fresh powder.
  • Feefle: A Scottish term for a swirling flurry of snow.
  • Flindrikin: Another Scots word – this one’s a short, light snow shower.
  • Frigorific: This means ‘causing cold or freezing’ and comes from frigorifique – the French word for refrigerated.
  • Gelid: When ‘cold’ doesn’t quite cut it, use gelid – a Latin word that means very cold, icy or frosty.
  • Graupel: This snowy hail gets its name from its round shape – graupe means pearl barley in German.
  • Grue: Dating way back to the 13th century, this word has lots of uses – it can mean snow, thin floating ice or ‘to shiver with cold’.
  • Jokul: From the Icelandic jökull (meaning icicle), a jokul is a mountain covered in snow – our favourite kind.
  • Névé: If you’re looking to get specific, névé is the compacted, granulated snow on a glacier. It comes from the Latin word for snow, nix.
  • Onding: Used in Northern England and Scotland in the 18th century, an onding is heavy snowfall that’s not quite a blizzard.
  • Purga: A step up from an onding, purga is a Russian word for a violent blizzard.
  • Skift: Mainly used in the USA, a skift is a light dusting of snow.
  • Sposh: This name for soft slushy snow is a combo of slush and posh (posh is an old English word for slushy mud).
How many words are there for snow?

Think you’re ready to crump through an onding this winter? Brush up on your ski jargon and ski slang, and we’ll see you on the jokul.

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