Snow di­alect

The Simple Things - - OUTDOORS -

Snow has so many dif­fer­ent forms – it changes and mu­tates as it falls, lands and melts – that it’s no sur­prise dif­fer­ent re­gions have come up with their own words to de­scribe what they ex­pe­ri­ence. From the sub­tle dif­fer­ences be­tween types of snow­fall to try­ing to de­scribe the worst a snow­storm can throw at you, here are just some of the more un­usual or long-for­got­ten terms:

Blenky An old West Coun­try word to de­scribe very light snow­fall, from blenks, an old word for ashes. The Scots called a light snow shower flindrikin, which also means flimsy or friv­o­lous.

Blind smuir A fan­tas­tic his­toric Scot­tish word for a snow drift. Smuir meant to ‘smother’ or ‘suf­fo­cate’, so a ‘blind smuir’ was a snow storm that not only blinded you, but also choked.

Ond­ing An 18th-cen­tury word, orig­i­nally from the Mid­dle English din­gen, which means to hit re­peat­edly; ‘ond­ing’ is heavy, un­re­lent­ing snow or rain.

Snow-broth A me­dieval phrase mean­ing melted snow or slush; it even turns up in Shake­speare’s Mea­sure for Mea­sure, “… Lord An­gelo; a man whose blood Is very snow-broth”.

Poudre The French Cana­di­ans used poudre to de­scribe pow­dery snow (from the Old French, poudre, mean­ing ‘pow­der’ or ‘dust’) un­til the early 1900s. The Scots used a sim­i­lar word, snaw-pouther. Ice-shog­gles Old York­shire di­alect for ‘ici­cles’. Other re­gional gems from across the UK in­clude clinker-bells, da­glers, ice-lick, izles, snipes and tan­klets. In­ter­est­ingly, many words in York­shire di­alect have Vik­ing ori­gins – the word glocken, which de­scribes the point at which snow be­gins to thaw, comes from the Ice­landic glög­gur, which means ‘to make clear’.

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