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Advent Calendar 2022: Sweden's many, many, many words for snow

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Advent Calendar 2022: Sweden's many, many, many words for snow
Not the prettiest type of snow, this is usually referred to as 'slask'. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

In the next article of our 2022 Advent Calendar, we share Sweden's many words for snow.


In Sweden, snow is much more than a pretty wintery weather phenomenon.

In some parts of the country, it's present for several months of the year. It might represent a struggle or a hazard, while for children (and let's face it, some adults) it's an opportunity to play. Its brightness also helps bring a bit of light to the otherwise dark months of the year.

Because of this, the Swedish language has many words for snow, while the Sami language spoken by the native people of the northern regions has even more – over 200 by some counts. Some of this is due to the fact the Swedish language lends itself to compound words, however.

Here are a few to get you started.

There's nysnö (new snow), blötsnö (wet snow), snömos (fresh fluffy snow), pudersnö (powder snow), snökanon (lake-effect snow), knarrsnö (crispy snow) and kramsnö (literally 'squeeze snow', the right consistency for making snowballs).


Then you've got slask (slush or partly melted snow), skare (the crust on packed snow when one layer melts and then freezes over again) and dagsmeja (snow melting in the sunshine).


And the Sami language can add even more: muohta (snow in general), habllek (powder snow), soavli (slushy snow), vahca (new snow), and ciegar (a snowfield which has been trampled by reindeer), to name a few.



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