Snow Slang

A users guide to the
innumerable types of snow

It’s widely considered that the Inuit have some 100 words for snow, but anthropologists are generally split on whether that’s an exaggerated urban myth or reality. Skiers and riders, on the other hand? The vocabulary can feel as limitless as the possible permutations of the flakes we’re describing and surfaces on which we slide.  by Tyler Cohen

Here’s 4241’s take on the glossary you need to know:


[ blow·er]


(1) snow of improbably low density that defies logic and gravity, rising from the surface when turned through with cloud-like buoyancy to swirl, swoop and remain suspended in air like a floating, drifting dream of the deepest day ever
(2) the guy in the lift line who won’t stop talking about how deep his last run was


[ bud·dah]


(1) a savory, cream-like product that’s solid when chilled, liquid when warmed and deliciously smooth and spreadable at temperatures in between
(2) should not be confused with margarine, a synthetic substitute of imitation
(3) also see: buttah




(1) a surface with an improbable level of impenetrability, often caused by warming followed by a deep, unrelenting freeze




(1) a nonporous surface of densely packed snow granules that, in spite of its hardened qualities, remains edgeable and, when planar, can often offer pleasant turns


[ chat·ter]


(1) frozen, ultra-hardened snow that invokes the eponymous term on skis, knees and, under the most dramatic circumstances, teeth


[ chat·er·oi]


(1) super-cooled groomed snow (see: corduroy) that offers skiable characteristics similar to that of chatter

chicken heads

[ chik·uhn hedz]


(1)  a dramatically uneven plain of snow punctuated by raised, rigid features resembling the size and shape of poultry heads


[ chou·der]


(1) weighty, moistened snow of maritime quality
(2) best served piping hot and in a bread bowl
(3) also see: chowdah




(1)  a powder day’s sloppy, heavy, cut-up leftovers, generally difficult to turn through and taxing on one’s legs

chunder from down under

[ chun·der from doun uhn·der]


(1)  ground-up ice dusted in fresh snow
(2)  chunder (see above) of Australian heritage

cold smoke

[kohld smohk]


(1)  powder snow’s coldest and smokiest known form
(2)  a byproduct of enormous snowflakes and/or snowfall at deeply cold temperatures
(3)  widely known to cause temporary respiratory distress when inhaled, as well as facial muscle spasms due to excess grinning

cookie dough

[kook·ee doh]


(1)  freshly fallen snow of excessive water content, partially but not fully baked
(2)  lacking chocolate chips and therefore not all that sweet

coral reef

[kuh·ral reef]


(1)  a refrozen, highly textured surface with an appearance similar to its oceanic counterpart, though often significantly less fragile or beautiful
(2)  also see: reef; frozen mank




(1)  the pristine, parallel-lined byproduct of meticulous grooming best carved as early in the morning as possible in order to achieve top speeds, pure bliss and, possibly, enlightenment
(2)  also see: cord; fresh cord; porcelain corduroy; roy




(1) a collection of water-lubricated, sun-cooked snow granules resulting from springtime’s regular and repeated cycle of warming and freezing
(2)  best sampled while wearing a Hawaiian shirt at either corn:30 or corn o’clock
(3)  also see: creamed corn; peal-away corn

cream cheese

[kreem cheez]


(1)  a smooth, moist, fresh slathering that’s easily spread and whipped to perfection

crème brûlée

[krem broo·ley]


(1)  custard-like snow encrusted with a thin, breakable veneer as though delicately seared using a blowtorch
(2)  also see: hardshell candy; crust




(1)  a hardened, ice-like surface coating snow of soft texture
(2)  can be measured in varying degrees of thickness including breakable crust; zipper crust; sun crust; death crust
(3)  also see: dust on crust

death cookies

[deth kook·eez]


(1)  bowling ball- to microwave-sized amalgamations of ice, snow and detritus that offer no redeeming skiable qualities whatsoever

diamond dust

[dahy·muhnd dust]


(1)  ultra-fine ice and snow particulates that, in cold temperatures, remain suspended indefinitely in mid air, refracting, shimmering and shining sunlight like nature’s stained glass
(2)  also see: pixie dust




(1)  angular snow grains of a sugar-like consistency formed by dry, cold spells
(2)  also see: sugar; sugar snow


[fair to bair]


(1)  better than not skiing
(2)  also see: fast grass; brown on down

fluffer nutter

[fluff·uh nutt·er]


(1)  a marshmallow-like substance that’s tacky in a weird, unnatural kind of way




(1)  a dramatically uneven plain of snow punctuated by raised, rigid features resembling the size and shape of poultry heads
(2)  also see: Velveeta




(1)  a tomato-centric, vegetable-based soup of Spanish origin that, while occasionally used to describe snow, has literally no connection aside from the fact that it’s best served cold




(1)  the mushiest of mush, generally super saturated beyond the point of low-friction gliding
(2)  also see: isothermal; mank; mush; schmoo




(1)  individualized conglomerations of snow and/or ice, each roughly the size and shape of a marble, that together form a rolling, low-friction surface
(2)  also see: frozen granular; deep granular; ball bearings




(1)  round, soft pellets of rime formed when water droplets collect on falling snowflakes
(2)  occasionally causes thunder snow, the most badass-sounding weather phenomenon


[hahrd· pak]


(1)  a compact, ultra-durable surface prized among racers and those who like to go fast
(2)  occasionally used in polite reference to ice
(3)  also see: New England packed powder




(1)  not better than not skiing (2) also see: frozen hellscape

hero snow

[heer·oh snow]


(1)  powder snow of such low density and uniform consistency and depth that anyone skiing or riding through or beneath it will look good, even Jerry
(2)  also see: cowboy powder

loud powder

[loud pou·der]


(1)  powder snow overlaying a firm base that, while pleasurable to ride, is audibly less pleasurable

mashed potatoes

[masht puh·tey·tohs]


(1)  a dramatically uneven plain of snow punctuated by raised, rigid features resembling the size and shape of poultry heads




(1)  the most universally sought-after form of fresh snow enjoyable no matter the depth, density or consistency
(2)  known to cause incurable lust, occasional fever and life-altering, lifelong quests
(3)  also see: fresh; white gold; loose; loose snow; plowder; puder; powdah; pow; hot pow; pow pow; pow-chica-pow-wow

packed powder

[pakt pou·der]


(1)  definitely not the same thing as above




(1)  a chalky, wind-scalloped surface that’s beautiful to look at and not beautiful to ride

sierra cement

[see·er·uh si·ment]


(1)  moist, maritime-like snow like that frequently found in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains




(1)  soft, loose snow that, once disturbed by tracks, tumbles and rolls down the fall line
(2)  also see: slough

soft serve

[sawft surv]


(1)  fresh, pliable, ice cream-like snow
(2)  the term improperly used outside of Vermont for a creemee




(1)  an often used yet thinly veiled misnomer for varying snows of inconsistent consistency and suboptimal quality

wind buff

[wind buhf]


(1)  an unbroken, wind-stiffened plane typically edgeable and chalk-like
(2)  also see: wind board
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