10 Wintry Words To Defrost Your Vocabulary


There’s a lot to be said about winter weather. It’s beautiful, fun, but often frustrating (go ahead and grumble). And depending on where you live, it can last a long time … a really long time.

Whether you’re only dreaming of snow or buried under it, we’re here to offer you some snappy words for the iciest of days. After all, there’s only so many times you can say “It’s freezing!” with a smile (if at all).

We’ll start with a word that perfectly captures what you wish you could be doing. Come colder climes, bears, snakes, and other torpor-prone critters retreat to their hibernaculums, or winter quarters, to conserve energy.

This term, which comes from the Latin hibernare meaning “to winter,” can also refer to an animal or plant bud’s protective winter covering.

WATCH: Snowflake: From Winter Wonderland to Petty Insult


If descriptors such as chilly and brisk don’t quite capture the degree of frigidity frosting your bones this season, gelid might be just the word you’re looking for. This adjective with Latin roots means “very cold, icy, or frosty.”


This term meaning “calm” or “peaceful” comes from Greek mythology: as the legend goes, Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus—the god of the winds—was turned into a kingfisher along with her husband, Ceyx. For 14 days around the winter solstice, she laid her eggs in a nest on seas made calm by her father.

The word halcyon is thought to be derived from Alycone and is often paired with days (halcyon days) to refer to calm winter weather. Halcyon can also refer to a kingfisher, mythical or otherwise.


This adjective means “of or characteristic to winter” and comes from the Latin bruma meaning “winter.” Brumal shares roots with the word brume meaning “mist” or “fog.”


If your winter vocabulary feels too modern and accessible, infuse it with this literary archaism: frore means “frozen” or “frosty.”

Even if nobody knows what you’re talking about, you’ll have the cool satisfaction of knowing you’re in good company as John Milton, John Keats, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning all worked the word into their poems.


This word might not come in handy if you’re a city mouse, but if you are a mountain-dweller, you’ll want to have névé in your vocabulary. The term means “granular snow accumulated on high mountains and subsequently compacted into glacial ice” or “a field of such snow.”

It shares a root with the word nival meaning “of or growing in snow.”


This adjective meaning “of or pertaining to winter; wintry” comes from the Latin hiems meaning “winter.”

Though Thomas Heywood’s 1635 The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels uses the phrase hiemal line to refer to the tropic of Capricorn, this winter word has not gotten much traction over the last few hundred years.


This underutilized adjective comes from the Latin algidus meaning “cold.”

It has been used to mean “chilly” since as early as the 17th century, but it is sometimes used in medicine to describe states of abnormally low body temperature or shock resulting in clamminess. We hope your winter does not include the medical sense of this useful word.


No two snowflakes are the same, so why use just one term for flakes big and small? Flakelet is defined as “small flake, as of snow.” Dare to get specific with your snowflake descriptors this season: try flakelet on for size.


This fun-to-say term means “causing or producing cold.” Ice, refrigerators, and particularly chilling people or circumstances can all be described as frigorific


Click to read more
Word of the Day

Can you guess the definition?


[ bah-chah-tah ]

Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day

[ bah-chah-tah ]

Redefine your inbox with Dictionary.com!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.