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Words for Snow

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Parque Nacional del Teide

Scene from el Parque Nacional del Teide in Spain.

Photo by Santiago Atienza; licensed via Creative Commons.

An urban legend has it that the Eskimo language has 25 (or four, or 50 or 100, depending on the version) words for snow. While the statement is seriously flawed (there's no one Eskimo language, nobody knows what the true number is, and nearly all languages have multiple words for snow), it does have some truth to it: Living languages, by their very nature, come up with the words or means to describe nearly everything that people talk about and to differentiate among them.

While Spanish may not be a language instantly associated with snow — most Spanish-speaking countries are in moderate climates — it has plenty of words and phrases for this substance, as this listing shows.

Words and phrases for snow and related phenomena:

  • el agua nieve, el aguanieve: sleet, rain mixed with snow
  • copo, copo de nieve: snowflake
  • la cornisa de nieve: cornice
  • el chubasco: intense snow shower
  • la conchesta: large snowdrift
  • la cubiera de nieve: snow cover
  • cubierto de nieve: snow-covered
  • el cúmulo de nieve: snowdrift
  • la escarcha: frost
  • escarchado: covered with frost
  • el glaciar: glacier
  • la granizada: hailstorm
  • el granizo: hail, sleet, hailstone
  • el granizo blando: soft hail, graupel, snow pellet
  • la helada: frost
  • helado: (adjective) frozen, very cold
  • la nevada: snowfall; the amount of snow that has fallen over a period of time without interruption
  • el nevado: snow-capped mountain, snowcap (Latin American usage)
  • nevar: to snow (The Spanish verb is defective in that it is used only in the third-person singular form.)
  • la nevasca: fallen snow, snowfall, snowstorm, blizzard
  • la nevazón: snowstorm (word used in parts of South America)
  • el nevero: permanent mountain snowfield or the snow in such a snowfield
  • la nieve: snow
  • la nieve amontanada: driven snow
  • la nieve artificial: artificial snow
  • la nieve derretida: melted snow, snowbroth
  • la nieve dura: crusty snow, packed snow
  • la nieve fresca: fresh snow
  • la nieve fusión: snow that becomes almost liquid when it is skied or slid upon
  • la nieve húmeda: wet snow
  • la nieve medio derretida: slush
  • la nieve polvo: powder snow
  • la nieve primaveral: spring snow
  • las nieves: snowfall
  • la nieve seca: dry snow
  • la nieve virgen: virgin snow
  • la piedra: hailstone (or any type of stone)
  • la ráfaga: flurry (the word can also be used to refer to a rain shower)
  • la tormenta de nieve: snowstorm
  • la ventisca: blizzard
  • ventiscar, ventisquear: to blow snow with a strong wind, to blow a blizzard
  • el ventisquero: snowdrift

Words for items or situations related to snow:

  • aislado por la nieve: snowbound, snowed under, snowed in
  • el alud: avalanche
  • la avalancha: avalanche
  • bloqueado por la nieve: snowbound, snowed under, snowed in
  • la bolita de nieve, la bola de nieve: snowball
  • las cadenas para nieve: snow chains
  • cegado por la nieve: snow-blind
  • el esquí: ski
  • esquiar: to ski
  • el muñeco de nieve: snowman
  • la motonieve: snowmobile
  • la quitanieve, la quitanieves: snowplow
  • la raqueta de nieve: snowshoe
  • el snowboard: snowboard
  • la tabla para nieve: snowboard
  • el traje de invierno: snowsuit, winter clothing

Translations of English words or phrases using "snow":

  • Blancanieves: Snow White
  • tomarle el pelo a alguien: to do a snow job on someone
  • la nieve, la cocaína: snow (slang term meaning "cocaine")
  • el raspado: snowcone (term used in parts of Latin America)

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