19 Old Cold Weather Words to Get You Through Winter

Reach for these delightful words from winters past when the weather outside is frightful.
Cold weather words were way more colorful in days gone by.
Cold weather words were way more colorful in days gone by. / Culture Club/Getty Images (Skaters), Justin Dodd/Mental Floss (speech bubble)

There are only so many ways to say “it’s cold outside,” which is why it’s time to supplement your vocabulary with these vintage words and phrases related to winter. They may technically be old, but to you, they’ll feel as new as a layer of freshly fallen snow.

1. Ice-Legs

Beatrix Loughran, Ethel Muckelt, Herma Planck-Szabo
These ladies had their ice-legs. / Topical Press Agency/GettyImages

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

Crule can mean “to shiver with cold”—or “to crouch by a fire to warm up.”

3. Meggle

'The same to you sir, and many of 'em', 1827. Artist: George Hunt
It’s not quite a winter wonderland. / Heritage Images/GettyImages

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

4. Aquabob

An 18th-century word for an icicle, which can also be called 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.

6. Moble

Moble means “to wrap up the head with a hood.” More loosely, it’s used to mean “to wear layers of clothes to keep warm.”

7. Mufflements

'A Glimpse of Canada', 1893.
All bundled up. / Print Collector/GettyImages

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

Battling with the Storm Illustration
That’s a moorkavie, all right. / Jennifer Kennard/GettyImages

Probably derived from an old Norse word, kave, meaning “a heavy snowfall or shower of rain,” moorkavie 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

Close-up Of A Snowflake
Close-up of a snowflake that may or may not have been a clart. / Archive Farms/GettyImages

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

14. Peck-of-Apples

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

15. Rone

Rone (or 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, it’s known as pundering.

17. Ice-Bolt

‘Ice-bolt’ is an old word for an avalanche. / Topical Press Agency/GettyImages

In addition to 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 known as a shurl.

A version of this story ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2023.