400 Words for Snow
How many words for snow do you know? It has been documented that the Inuits of Greenland, and parts of Alaska, have more than 50 words for snow, but recently we discovered that the Scots have 421 words for snow. You might think that northerly countries like Iceland or Greenland have more words for snow given their freezing temperatures, but the Scots reign supreme for more ways to describe the light, white stuff.
Academics at the University of Glasgow started a project to compile a thesaurus of Scots words. The Historical Thesaurus of Scots is the first of its kind and is being published online. The team of researchers has appealed to the public to send in their own words. They’re even accepting images to illustrate Scots words in all categories. Isn’t language funny!
Always About Weather
Weather and Sport were the first two categories to gain the most entries when the thesaurus was set-up. The game of marbles overtook football for the most synonyms — a staggering 369 words.
“Weather has been a vital part of people’s lives in Scotland for centuries. The number and variety of words in the language show how important it was for our ancestors to communicate about the weather, which could so easily affect their livelihoods.”
“You might expect sports like football and golf to loom large in the thesaurus, but it turns out that there are actually more words relating to marbles – which is an indication of how popular the game has been with generations of Scottish children”, states Dr Susan Rennie, lecturer in English and Scots language at the University of Glasgow.
Other elements of weather like clouds and mist have many entries in the thesaurus.
Some Scots words for Snow
- snaw — snow
- snawie — snowy
- blin-drift — drifting snow
- skovin — a large snowflake
- flindrikin — a slight snow shower
- flukra — snow falling in large flakes
- spitters — small drops or flakes of wind-driven snow and rain
Watch the really cool video explaining snow on the BBC here.
The STAR Translation Team