Study reveals Scots have over 400 words for snow

Paul Morris/Flickr

Paul Morris/Flickr

From “feefle” to “spitters”, a study has revealed that when it comes to naming snow, the Scots have even managed to trump the Inuit’s by over 300 words.

Academics at the University of Glasgow, who are helping to compile the first Historical Thesaurus of Scots, have found that the Scot’s have over 400 names for the white stuff.

Words which have been revealed or rediscovered in the study:

“feefle” – to swirl, as of snow round a corner
“feuchter” – of snow: to fall lightly, to come down in odd flakes
“snaw-ghast” – an apparition seen in the snow
“spitters” – small drops or flakes of wind-driven rain or snow
“blin-drift” – drifting snow
“snaw-pouther” – fine driving snow
and “flindrikin” – a slight snow-shower

The thesaurus, which will be published online later today, features two categories which will be close to many Scottish hearts; weather and sport.

Dr Susan Rennie, Lecturer in English and Scots Language at the University of Glasgow, commenting on the research so far, said: “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.”

Researchers are encouraging members of the public to log comments or photographs on the website at, or through Twitter @scotsthesaurus.

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