Welcome to Winter Wonderland: Sweden has 50 words for snow

Look out of the window and try to describe the snow. You might get as far as ‘white’, ‘cold’, ‘thick’ – and then, well… begin to run out of ideas. But ask a friend in Sweden to describe the winter weather, and you might be in for a shock – or, at the very least, a rather long reply.

That’s because the Swedish language contains over 50 creative ways to describe ‘snow’, from ‘spårsnö’ – snow thick enough to allow footprints to be formed – to ‘knarrsnö’ – crispy snow that creaks when you walk on it.

The full list, published by the team behind Sweden’s Stockholm Åre 2026 Winter Olympic Games bid, is featured below – and organizers are asking readers to send in their own contributions to the list as they look to put together an unofficial Swedish encyclopedia of snow.

Swedes and snow go together like coffee and cinnamon buns. Last year saw record levels of snowfall in the Nordic nation, cementing its place as one of the world’s leading winter sport destinations – and some areas of the country even experienced snowfall in June!

In those areas, winter sport isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life, with residents regularly wrapping up to ski and ice skate into school and work. As the Swedes say, ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothes’ (‘Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder’).

But although Sweden, whose Stockholm Åre 2026 bid was recently named as an official Candidate City to host the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, alongside Italy’s Milan/Cortina, knows pretty much everything there is to know about snow, the Swedish language finishes in second when it comes to describing the slushy stuff.

Experts believe that the Sámi – an indigenous population inhabiting Sápmi, a region spanning large parts of Sweden and Norway, northern Finland and the Murmansk Oblast of Russia – boasts some 200 words for snow.

1) Blötsnö – wet, slushy snow
2) Drivsnö – snow that is blown into troublesome snow drifts
3) Aprilsnö – snow in April, according to suspicion signifies plenty of food for the coming season
4) Hårdsnö – compacted hard snow
5) Konstsnö – artificial snow

6) Kramsnö – squeezy snow, perfect for making snowballs
7) Julesnö – snow at Christmas
8) Klabbsnö – wet, warm snow for building snowmen
9) Kolsyresnö – frozen carbondioxide
10) Kornsnö – small white snow breadcrumbs

11) Lappvante – thick, falling snow
12) Lössnö – snow that can loosen and be dangerous
13) Majsnö – surprising and unwelcome snow in May
14) Modd – snow that has partly melted due to salt
15) Natursnö – real snow (as opposed to artificial)

16) Nysnö – fresh snow, crisp and white
17) Pudersnö – powder snow
18) Rekordsnö – an unusual amount of snow, breaking previous snow records
19) Slask – slushy snow mixed with rain and dirt on the ground
20) Snö – snow

21) Snöblandat regn – snow mixed with rain
22) Muohta – the Sami word for snow (it is said the Sami actually have 200 words for snow!)
23) Snörök – faint particles of snow that look like smoke
24) Yrsnö – snow being whipped around by the wind in all directions
25) Åsksnö – snow that pours down during a thunder storm

26) Snökanon – a sudden blast of snow that suddenly hits a place, and feels like snow has been dumped on you
27) Jungfrusnö – virgin snow
28) Snösmocka – a huge amount of snow
29) Snötäcke – snow on the ground
30) Sjösnö – snow over the sea that can roll in over land

31) Snöfall – snow in the air
32) Flingsnö – snow with larger crystals
33) Skarsnö – a crispy surface on a blanket of snow
34) Packsnö – thickly packed snow
35) Pärlsnö – snow like small pearls that hurts when it hits your face

36) Snöglopp – wet snow mixed with rain
37) Spårsnö – snow that allows footprints to be formed
38) Fjöcksnö – a light, fluffy snow
39) Flister – snow the consistency of salt that stings the face when it falls
40) Flaksnö – a sheet of snow

41) Upplega – snow on the upper side of a tree branch
42) Firn – liquid-like snow that can initiate an avalanche
43) Fimmeln – sandy snow that falls at low temperatures
44) Knarrsnö – crispy snow that creaks when you walk on it

45) Snöfyk – wet snow
46) Torrsnö – dry snow
47) Månsilver – a poetic word to describe the dusting of snow
48) Snöis – snow on cold water that forms an icy solid surface
49) Stöp – a mixture of snow and ice resembling porridge that forms on top of cold water
50) Tösnö – when the snow begins to melt and become heavier

Thanks to Neil at ’Watching the Swedes’ for the inspiration.

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