19 Old Cold Weather Words to Get You Through Winter

iStock.com/MarianVejcik
iStock.com/MarianVejcik

There are only so many ways to say “it’s cold outside,” and at this point in the winter, you may have exhausted all of them. Which is why it’s time to supplement your vocabulary with these vintage gems. They may technically be old, but to you, they’ll feel as new as a layer of freshly fallen snow.

1. ICE-LEGS

If sea-legs are a person’s ability to walk safely around a ship at sea, then ice-legs are the wintertime equivalent: It’s the ability to walk or skate on ice without falling over.

2. CRULE

To crule can mean to shiver with cold—or to crouch by a fire to warm up.

3. MEGGLE

Meggle is an old Scots word meaning "to trudge laboriously through mud or snow."

4. AQUABOB

An 18th-century word for an icicle. Also called ice-shoggles, ice-candles, or ice-shackles. A drop of water from an icicle is an icelet or a meldrop.

5. SNOW-BONES

They’re the lines of snow or ice left at the sides of roads after the rest of the snow has melted. Which will probably be around June.

6. MOBLE

To moble is to wrap up your head with a hood. More loosely, it’s used to mean to wear layers of clothes to keep warm.

7. MUFFLEMENTS

An old Lancashire dialect word for thick, warm, insulating clothes. (In other words, you might "moble your mufflements.")

8. HAPWARM

Hap is an old Yorkshire word for a heavy fall of snow, and likewise, hapwarm is an 18th-century dialect word for a heavy, all-covering item of clothing, worn to keep in the heat and keep out the cold.

9. HOGAMADOG

When you roll a snowball through a field of snow and it slowly gets bigger and bigger? That’s a hogamadog. (A regular old snowball can also be a winter apple.)

10. MOORKAVIE

Probably derived from an old Norse word, kave, meaning “a heavy snowfall or shower of rain,” moorkaavie is a Scots dialect word for a blinding snowstorm. The moor part is thought to be an old word for a crowd or swarm.

11. LAYING-WEATHER

An 18th-century expression for any weather condition in which snow lies on the ground.

12. SNOW-BLOSSOM

Spangle, flauchten, and snow-blossom are all old words for snowflakes …

13. CLART

… while a single flake of snow large enough to stick to your clothes is a clart.

14. PECK-OF-APPLES

An old English dialect nickname for a slip or fall on ice.

15. RONE

Rone (also called ronnie) is an old Scots word for a sheet or patch of ice that children use to slide on.

16. PUNDER

When the wind blows the snow off or away from something, that’s pundering.

17. ICE-BOLT

As well as being another name for an avalanche, the word ice-bolt was coined in the late 1700s for a sudden sharp feeling of the cold.

18. SNOW-BROTH

A 17th-century word for the water released by melting snow.

19. SHURL

When all the snow slides off a roof after it begins to thaw, that’s a shurl.

A version of this list first ran in 2016.

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

welcomia/iStock via Getty Images
welcomia/iStock via Getty Images

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the more than 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

11 Old-Fashioned Terms to Bring Back for Valentine’s Day

This 'dimber cove' is 'bughouse' for his 'dainty duck' on Valentine's Day.
This 'dimber cove' is 'bughouse' for his 'dainty duck' on Valentine's Day.
suteishi/iStock via Getty Images

Valentine’s Day is the opportune holiday to express all the lovey-dovey feelings you may not usually take the time to put into words—simply calling your partner “pretty” on the most romantic day of the year, however, might not exactly make the sparks fly. To help you get creative, here are 11 old-fashioned romance terms from the days of yore.

1. Bughouse

Decades before Beyoncé created a chart-topping melody to describe the feeling of being “crazy in love,” early 20th-century Americans simply called it “bughouse.”

2. Buss

Buss is an old-fashioned synonym of kiss that originated around 1570, possibly from the Middle English verb bassen, meaning “to kiss.” It also sounds fairly similar to a few kiss terms from Romance languages, like the French baiser, the Spanish beso, and Italian’s bacio.

3. Dainty duck

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pyramus refers to his lover, Thisbe, as a “dainty duck.” They didn’t exactly live happily ever after, but that’s no reason not to bring back dainty duck as an adorable (and alliterative) term of endearment.

4. Dimber

From stunning to hunky, there are plenty of satisfactory ways to call someone “attractive.” None, however, have quite as much old-timey appeal as dimber, a gender-neutral term for pretty from the 17th century. Dimber cove refers to a handsome man, while dimber mort is used for a pretty girl or woman.

5. Dulcinea

In Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, the titular character nicknames a lovely peasant girl “Dulcinea,” derived from dulce, the Spanish word for sweet. Over time, people started using it as a general term for sweetheart.

6. Face Made of a Fiddle

If you find your partner irresistibly charming, you can tell them that they have a “face made of a fiddle”—a face so welcoming and attractive that it seems to mirror the smile-like curves of a fiddle. Just be careful not to confuse it with having a “face as long as a fiddle,” which describes a dismal, unhappy demeanor.

7. Jam Tart

Because Valentine’s Day is filled with sweet treats already, it’s only fitting that you’d replace the word heart with jam tart—a classic bit of Cockney rhyming slang for your ticker.

8. Prigster

If you’re fighting for the heart of a fair maiden, you can call your competitor a “prigster,” a word dating back to the 1670s that means “a rival in love.”

9. RILY

Lovers were expressing their feelings in shorthand long before the invention of texting—starting in the mid-1940s, telegrams sometimes contained the acronym RILY, for “Remember, I love you.”

10. Spoon

Engaging in a little foolish flirtation this Valentine’s Day? Your 19th-century ancestors might call that “spooning.”

11. Sugar Report

Sugar report caught on during World War II as a slang term for the letters that soldiers received from their wives and girlfriends back home. If you’re sending a lengthy email to your partner detailing your romantic itinerary for Valentine’s Day, feel free to type Sugar Report as the subject line.

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