Wintry Words

There’s no reason to let your vocabulary hibernate when the weather gets frigid. Check out these winter-related words.

For more, read the full article:
The Chilly Vocabulary of Snowpocalypse Season

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. arctic
    extremely cold
    Charlie wasn’t waiting by the door, and I was shocked by a blast of arctic air when I walked outside in nothing but shorts and a tank top.We Are the Ants
    The Arctic Circle, which contains the North Pole, is the northernmost part of the planet, and (along with the South Pole) is the most consistently cold region, much like tropical areas are the hottest. So if you hear your local meteorologist saying, “Arctic temperatures are on the way,” you’d better wear six layers of clothes, whippersnappers.
  2. blizzard
    a storm with widespread snowfall accompanied by strong winds
    If you live in New York, for example, you should prepare for blizzards, hurricanes and extreme heat, but you probably don’t need to spend too much time fretting about earthquakes.New York Times (Sep 29, 2017)
    The original meaning of blizzard, in the early 1800s, referred to a sharp blow of some kind, like a powerful punch from a skilled boxer. That violent sense fits with the winter-related meaning. By the mid-1800s, the word applied to snowstorms that combined heavy snow and powerful winds, leaving everyone in the blizzard’s path blind and buried. A much lighter bout of snowfall is called a flurry.
  3. bracing
    refreshing or invigorating
    However, on Saturday he seemed rejuvenated by the bracing English seaside air.Reuters (Jul 1, 2017)
  4. brutal
    Fascinated by the medical challenges of overwintering in the Antarctic, where brutal weather isolates teams from civilisation for up to nine months, she first began appealing to Germany's polar research institute in 1984.BBC (Nov 9, 2017)
    This word applies to many situations that are not, as they say, a picnic in the park. A government described as a brutal regime is violent and repressive. In mixed martial arts, a brutal fight leaves one fighter—or both—beaten to a pulp. When it comes to weather, brutalism involves weather extremes. You could describe a 100-degree day as brutal, but it’s more common to describe severe winter weather this way: rapidly falling snow, icy streets, and gusting winds are all brutal.
  5. chilly
    appreciably or disagreeably cold
    The Packers are getting their running game in gear, just in time for December’s chilly weather.Washington Times (Dec 7, 2017)
    Anything colder than forty degrees Fahrenheit can easily be considered chilly, depending on the thickness of your coat or the machoness of your temperament. A related term is wind chill: the temperature it actually feels like when you factor in the chilling effect of the wind. This is another cold word that’s often applied to people and situations. If two friends have had a falling out, you could say their relationship is chilly.
  6. crisp
    pleasantly cold and invigorating
    To enjoy the crisp, fresh air and the companionship of a friend, nothing beats a walk!Washington Post (Nov 28, 2017)
    This word usually applies to foods that are thin and dry and crack easily: think of the sharp crunch when you break or bite into a cracker. But we sometimes describe bitterly cold days as crisp too: especially a day with a high wind chill. On days with 30 or 40 mile per hour winds, just walking to the corner can feel like you’re getting stabbed with icicles repeatedly, and no coat or suit of armor can keep you warm. Crisp weather is also called brisk.
  7. frigid
    extremely cold
    Willey says one wall of the barn was not finished, allowing frigid air to whip through.Seattle Times (Dec 14, 2017)
  8. frostbite
    damage to bodily tissue caused by extreme cold
    He was still shivering and unable to speak, and his feet were swollen from frostbite.The Guardian (Mar 23, 2017)
  9. gelid
    extremely cold
    It was a sunny, gelid afternoon just after Christmas.The New Yorker (Feb 19, 2017)
  10. glacial
    extremely cold
    It doesn’t help that the lags between courses are glacial and some of the dishes are tepid.Washington Post (Apr 24, 2017)
    Glacial has a few meanings related to glaciers, which are humongous masses of ice and snow much larger than icebergs. Anything that moves slowly is going at a glacial pace. An older person using a walker is probably moving glacially, though it would be rude to say so. Legal and legislative processes tend to move at a glacial pace too. The other meaning comes from the temperature of glaciers: glacial temperatures are extremely cold.
  11. hibernate
    sleep during winter
    Others say: “Hello, I like to hibernate from November to March. Yes, I am in my pyjamas at 1pm on a Wednesday, what’s your point?”The Guardian (Dec 5, 2016)
  12. hypothermia
    subnormal body temperature
    One of three fishermen in the boat swam to shore and was taken to Red Lake Indian Health Service hospital to be treated for hypothermia.Seattle Times (Nov 7, 2017)
  13. icicle
    ice resembling a pendent spear formed by dripping water
    By now, Taisin recognized parts of the fortress—the long, sloping corridor; the cavernous ceiling hung with icicles sharp as swords; the endless ranks of golden cages.Huntress
  14. nip
    the property of being moderately cold
    A nip in the air doesn’t dissuade some of us from enjoying the exterior, warmed by tall heat lamps and romanticized with mesmerizing fire pits.Washington Post (Oct 30, 2017)
  15. polar
    extremely cold
    Forecasters say the weather is caused by a polar air mass that originated over northern Canada.Seattle Times (Jan 12, 2017)
  16. shiver
    shake, as from cold
    Buried under three blankets on the couch, I was still shivering.New York Times (Dec 15, 2017)
  17. squall
    sudden violent winds, often accompanied by precipitation
    In Washington, flurries and squalls produced modest accumulations.Washington Post (Jan 7, 2017)
    This word sounds like the kind of sudden squawk an alarmed bird might make, but there’s no feathers to be found: a squall is really a powerful blast of wind. In the winter, squalls—which are similar to gusts, but gustier—can turn a cold day into a frigid, polar, glacial day. Squalls can even turn a snowstorm into a blizzard. The origin of this term isn’t known for sure, but an older sense involved a piercing scream.
  18. vortex
    a powerful circular current of water
    During the January 2014 polar vortex, coal piles froze outside generation facilities, while frozen pipes, valves and other equipment contributed to power failures.Washington Post (Dec 8, 2017)

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