Twelve Words About Winter You May Not Have Heard Of

Here at F(r)iction, we are huge fans of winter. I, for one, love this time of year. Everything is cozy, quiet, and comfortable. Scratch that—these words aren’t enough to express how wonderful winter is.

In fact, I need more words—better words, more poetic words, so-great-they-don’t-seem-real words!

So have a look at these new tongue-ticklers to try out this season—I hope you love them as much as I do.

  1. Petrichor (peh-trick-or): “a distinctive, earthy, usually pleasant odor that is associated with rainfall especially when following a warm, dry period” (Merriam-Webster).

    Okay—how amazing is this word?! I’ve always appreciated that calm-after-the-storm, rain-and-soggy-leaves smell, but I never had a word to describe it before. Now I do! Where I live, we’ve had a lot of fluctuation between snow and freezing rain, so this word seems particularly relevant this year. Does this sound like a robot name to anyone else?
  1. Crepuscular (creh-pus-cue-lar): “of, relating to, or resembling twilight” (Merriam-Webster).

    You know how, as the weather gets colder, it feels like you’re never in the sun? You’re out of the house before it’s fully up, and back home after it’s gone down. It feels like the only time you’re in nature is during those twilight hours. Well, maybe you’ll feel just a bit better thinking of it as your crepuscular time. It’s pretty satisfying to say.
  1. Apricity (apri-si-tea): “the warmth of the sun in the winter” (Merriam-Webster).

    This is literally my favorite word. I learned about it last winter, and I think it is a poem in itself. Thank you, office desk “word-of-the-day” calendar.
  1. Hygge (hyoo-guh): “a quality of coziness and contentment” (Merriam-Webster).

    Leave it to the Danes to come up with a cute little word that sounds like you’re wrapping yourself up in a blanket. I don’t know about you, but up here in Canada I can definitely appreciate some hygge.
  1. Subnivean (sub-niv-ee-an): “situated or occurring under the snow” (Merriam-Webster).

    As in, sorry, I can’t make it into work… there is a subnivean squirrel blocking my path. Amazing.
  1. Psychrophilic (psych-row-fill-ick): “thriving at a relatively low temperature” (Merriam-Webster).

    I suppose coniferous trees would be considered psychrophilic. I certainly am—get me to a hockey rink, put some hot chocolate in my hands, maybe a good book or two… perfect!
  1. Skijoring (ski-jawr-ing): “a winter sport in which a person wearing skis is drawn over snow or ice by a horse or vehicle” (Merriam-Webster).

    Though it sounds vaguely terrifying, how cool would it be to say you went skijoring over the weekend?
  1. Primaveral (pre-ma-vaer-al): “of or relating to early spring” (Merriam-Webster).

    No, friends, this is not a pasta. Fooled you there for a second, didn’t I? This isn’t technically a winter word either, unless you are one of those people who just stays inside, counting the days until winter is over.
  1. Crule (crew-ell): can mean “to shiver with cold” or “to crouch by a fire to warm up” (A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words).

    While I wish I could use this one every day—who doesn’t love warming their hands by a fire?—it would most likely be confused with cruel one too many times. Still cool, though, huh?
  1. Meggle (megg-uhl): “to trudge laboriously through mud or snow” (Dictionary of the Scots Language).

    Whether it’s fall, winter, or just especially rainy, we have all had to meggle at some point. Nice to know there’s a word for it!
  1. Mufflements (muff-el-ments): “thick, warm, insulating clothes” (The English Dialect Dictionary).

    I don’t know about you, but next time I’m out in the snow, I will be telling all of my friends not to forget their mufflements.
  1. Hogamadog (hog-uh-muh-dog): “the huge ball of snow made by [people]* in rolling a snowball over soft snow” (The English Dialect Dictionary). *Edited to say people because sexism.

    This word is definitely the most fun to say of any on the list. Although I bet if you asked someone to make a hogamadog with you, they would be very confused.

So now you have twelve new words to add to your vocabulary. Anyone else keep a list of new words they want to use? Stay warm, don’t forget your scarves, and have a cup of apple cider or two (or three…). Happy winter!

Ally Geist

Ally is a quirky little Canuck living in Toronto, Canada (yes, they do have a lot of maple syrup up there!). She graduated with a BA in Theatre Studies (specializing in Playwriting and Dramaturgy) from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. She also has a post-grad certificate in Publishing from Ryerson University. When Ally is not reading, crying over cute puppy videos on the internet, defending the merits of the Oxford comma, or watching reruns of Schitts Creek, she is most likely lip-synching for her life in her bedroom, pretending she is one of the fabulous Drag Race queens. You can find her on Instagram @allygeist.

Image by Gerd Altmann