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’.