That's What They Say
8:05 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Wacky weather words

Maybe polar vortex has not been a welcome addition to all of our vocabularies, but there are some other great weather words out there.

In this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, Host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss regional words to describe the weather.

Depending on where we live, we use different names for a "light snow." According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, some speakers call this a skiff or a skift. However, in the Midwest and on the East Coast, people are more likely to use the terms dusting or flurry.

How about the frost patterns on windows? Although not everyone has a word for this, some Americans call it a Jack Frost or a Jack Frost painting.

There are also variations of "thunderstorm."

“I call it a thunderstorm, some folks call it a thundershower, an electric or electrical storm,” Curzan explains. “Then in North Carolina and a few other places it can be a squall or a thunder-squall.”

Similarly, there are many ways to describe "heavy rain." Some peculiar names include gully-washer, cloudburst, frog-strangler, trash-mover and even turd-floater.

What quirky words do you use to describe the weather in Michigan? Let us know by commenting on our website or on our Facebook page.

-Clare Toeniskoetter, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

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