The old saying goes that Innuit have a 1000 names for snow (as @venture2099 says this isn't actually true but you get my point). This kind of makes sense to describe the various states and types of snow you get.

I can name a few:

  • Neve
  • Grappel
  • Wind slab
  • Rime
  • Hoar

What other names for snow exist?

English only please, don't just say "snow" in as many languages as google translate will let you...

  • 3
    They don't. It is a gross fabrication. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuit_words_for_snow Jan 9, 2015 at 14:50
  • 2
    @Venture2099 Agreed! Nontheless, a nice community wiki collection (to me this is one of the really rare cases where a community wiki would make sense) of the different names would be some nice feature. Jan 9, 2015 at 14:58
  • This to me is something rather interesting in the same way there are many types of names for all different lavas. Great idea.
    – Aravona
    Jan 9, 2015 at 15:27
  • 1
    I never said it was true @Venture2099 :) Just that it's a saying!
    – user2766
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:05
  • 1
    There's a growing list on Wikipedia: Types of Snow
    – ShemSeger
    Jan 9, 2015 at 21:34

5 Answers 5


Skiiers have many words for snow.

  • Powder
  • Packed Powder
  • Hard pack
  • Ice
  • Glare Ice (If you dig in, you can catch an edge on ice, but not on glare ice.)
  • Crud (Used to be powder, but then it got warm and partially melted, then it re-froze. You sink through it almost like powder, but it's heavy and hard to ski through.)
  • Corduroy (That's the fresh tracks left by a grooming machine. See some pictures here.)
  • Slush
  • Mashed potatoes (This is typical of late spring skiing: it's not so much snow as bits of ice, maybe 2-3 mm in diameter. It's hard to turn, you end up sinking in with each turn, so you often have to muscle around large quantities of snow with each turn.) (Reading the other answers, it sounds like this is the same thing as "Firn/névé". That definition mentioned repeated melting/freezing, which is definitely what happens in the late spring.)
  • Sugar snow (Powder that isn't sticking together at all.)

I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting.



Snow consisting of several millimeters sized grains that develop by repeated melting in the sun and freezing over again during the night. Typically occurring in late winter and spring when the temperatures rise again or – in higher altitudes where snow exists all year – during summer.


As the name says, very fine-grained snow that fell at rather cold temperatures (I would guess something like -5 to -10 degrees Celsius).

sticky snow:

Snow that fell at temperatures around zero degrees Celsius. Heavier than powder and sticks together when compressed – good for building snow men and snowball fights.

harsh (Does this word exist as a noun in English?)/snow crust:

A hard and thin, ice-like surface on softer snow underneath. Forming mostly on powder that whose surface was slightly molten during the day and froze over again in the night. Especially annoying if it is not thick enough to hold the weight of a person as moving (skiing, snowshoeing, walking) under such conditions is quite exhaustive.

hardpack/wind slab (Don't know if necessarily the same?):

snow that was carried away from its initial place and deposited somewhere else. Through the wind it is mostly quite compact.

  • In New Zealand I've heard firn snow referred to as "sugar snow" or sometimes "wet sugar snow" (to indicate how hard it can be to shovel the stuff). Jan 12, 2015 at 4:01

There's an excellent ski term glossary here from the Tetonsandwasatch blog, which includes words for snow, some of which I find hilarious. Some of my favorites:

Chunder – Generally, chopped up, bad – even heinous – snow.

Corn – Granular snow formed by repeatedly melting during the day and freezing at night. It’s generally icy at night; the ‘corn’ appears as the snow warms with daytime heating.

Facets – Snow which has undergone metamorphosis, such that the crystals are poorly bonded together. Often compared to sugar.

Glom – 1) A nasty condition in which accumulated material, usually a combination of semi-frozen, frozen, and melting snow, sticks to everything, particularly one’s skins as they attempt to ascend, thus resulting in ‘glomming.’ 2) Amalgamation of various food items which end up in the cooking pot on a camp stove. Best served with hot sauce! To learn to protect against glom, look here

Graupel – Precipitation that is created by the interaction of droplets of water condensing on a snowflake, creating a ball of rime. Best represented by images of ball bearings or tiny styrofoam ball filling material.

Pow, powder – Snow of a low density. Has many names, types, and varieties: gunsmoke, cream, fluff, air, bottomless, gnar gnar (often used by powder technicians), champagne, and many more.

Rime – A type of snow that has typically been wind blasted into place with such other factors present that it can hold on to vertical objects.

Sastrugi – Snow that has been shaped and affected by the wind.

Snain – A barely frozen snow which is a lot like rain. Or vice versa – a frozen rain that’s a lot like snow.

Snice – Snow that’s got plenty of ice content.

Snirt – You guessed it – snow that’s got plenty of dirt in it. Or dirt that has a little snow upon it.


Depending on how strict your definition is...

Windrow: The pile of snow along the edge of the road left behind by a snowplough.

You could also look at this list or this one. Not every word on these lists might apply to your question, but I'm sure you'll find a lot of good ones.

  • It is a unique variety of snow, IMO. Jan 9, 2015 at 18:29


As snow descends through the atmosphere and the air warms it melts and turns back to liquid (rain). If rain or partially-melted snow falls through a layer of sub-freezing air, sleet forms as small pellets of ice. So while not all sleet is still snow, some it may only be partially melted to the point that you may still consider it as such.

Sleet is the American terminology. This phenomenon is referred to as ice pellets in the rest of the Angloshpere.

The French term is neige fondue.

  • If you know the weather conditions that cause sleet, please do edit. Thanks :-) Jan 9, 2015 at 15:27
  • Also called ice pellets, in the commonweath we call sleet a mix of rain and snow, so it's slushy snow.
    – Aravona
    Jan 9, 2015 at 15:51
  • @orangejewelweed, pretty sure that's the process. Feel free to undo/edit as appropriate.
    – user2766
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:08
  • I don't have rep to edit, but this is not correct. Sleet (ice pellets) forms when rain or partially melted snow falls through a sub-freezing layer of air, causing it to re-freeze into pellets. Please cite sources when writing answers on SE. (I suspect you'd have found this information in short order.) Here's the Wikipedia artice: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_pellets
    – reo katoa
    Jan 9, 2015 at 17:00
  • In the UK we would call this hail.
    – nivag
    Jan 12, 2015 at 10:58