Fifty-Five English Words for Snow

Frost                           snowflake/having formed flatly on surface
Flurries                        snow/falling
              snow/and+or other/falling
Snowfall                      snow/having fallen
Accumulation             +quantity snow/having fallen
Snow drift
                   piled snow/by wind
Snow bank                  piled snow/by man (with machine)
Blizzard                       much snow/falling
Snowstorm                  much snow/falling/with wind
Snowsquall                  surprise snow/falling/coming in from sea
Whiteout                     snow/everywhere/with wind
Wet snow                    watery snow
Snow shower               wet snow/falling/with rain
Sleet                             snow with rain
Snizzle                         like drizzle, but snow
Slush                            melting snow/on side walk
Ice                                   clear hard snow
clear hard snow/big like gravel/falling
clear hard snow/big like gravel/single
much clear hard snow/big like gravel/falling/with wind
Ice floe                           
floating snow/moving
Pack ice                         
floating snow/stuck together over miles
floating snow/big like mountain/moving slowly
Black ice                        
black hard snow/on road
Ice cube                         
clear hard snow/for drinks
snow/having melted, and frozen/growing downwards
                             top layer of snow/having melted and frozen again
Slopes                           snow/having fallen on mountainside/for skiing
Powder                         dry fluffy snow/for skiing
Hard Pack                    hard smooth snow/for skiing
Mogul                           bump of snow/for hopping while skiing
Corn                              spring snow/in kernels/bad for skiing
Crud                              mix of clear snow and white snow/terrible for skiing
Thaw                             snow/becoming water
Cold front                     impending snow
Warm front                  impending thaw
Freezing fog                 fog/becoming flat snowflake on contact
Rime                             freezing fog/having become flat snowflake
Freezing rain                rain/becoming clear snow on ground and trees
Frozen rain                   rain/having become clear snow on ground and trees
Snowball                       packed snow/for throwing
Snow fort                      packed snow/for stopping snowballs
Quinzhee                      packed snow/for shelter
Igloo                              like quinzhee, but posh
Snowman                      piled snow/by child/with carrot [and+maybe] buttons
Frosty the Snowman        a jolly happy soul
Abominable Snowman    snowman/with attitude
Snow angel                       silhouette in snow/with wings
Snow job                           snow/in eyes/it burns
Snow cone                        sweet snow
Yellow snow                      sour snow
Water                                melted snow
Snow                                 just plain snow

* Canadian English is the first language of approximately 17M speakers, mostly of non-indigenous ethnic origin, inhabiting what is now Canada. Some speakers of Canadian English can spend up to eight months per year surrounded by snow. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Recent related investigations into snow culture among the Nacirema include:
– “A Lexicon of Snow” (UCalgary)
– “Counting Eskimo words for Snow: A citizen’s guide” (Princeton)
– “The Eskimos’ Hundred Words for Snow
– “Words for Snow Watch” (LL – bz)
– “88 English Words from Snow” (LL – myl)
– “English Words for Snow” (LL – az)

Then there is the LL mother lode on this topic.
UPDATE: some recent meta-discussion – “Bad Science Reporting Again: The Eskimos are back” (LL – gkp)

– And of course Worf’s own “Science and Linguistics”


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  • […] of utterance, such as the original “X have Y words for Z” (on the pattern “Eskimos have fifty-five words for snow“, but transferable to “The French have no word for entrepreneur“, or whatever), […]

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