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Family Ski News | June 20, 2024

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Scottish snow, snuee and snaw

Scottish snow, snuee and snaw
Teresa Fisher

How many words are there to describe snow in Scotland?  According to researchers at Glasgow University there are over 400 words to describe snow and snowy weather.  The words have been compiled for an Historical Thesaurus of the Scottish language. 

According to Dr Susan Rennis, lecturer in English and Scots language at the university “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.”

Here at, our favourite words on the list for snow include “snaw”, “snuee” and “katty-clean-doors” – a child’s name for snow; “flicht” for a snowflake, “spitters” for small flakes and “flukra” for a large snowflake.

Then there’s “sneesl” and “driffle” for slight sleet; “slibber”, “glush” and “snaw-broo” for slush; “smirr” and “scowder” for light snow showers; “snaw-pouther” is driving snow;  “skirvin” or “flaffin” for a thin sprinkling of snow; or a “hog-reek” for a blizzard.

Best to wrap up in “scoggers” (snow clothing) when the weather turns bad!

The aim of the Historical Thesaurus of Scots is to cover the vocabulary of Scots from the earliest records to the present day, based on the Dictionary of the Scots Language.  The thesaurus goes online today (and is an on-going project), so you can find plenty more snowy words by clicking HERE.

We’re looking forward to adopting some of these words for our next family ski holiday!