That (or rather *snoigwh-o-s, from the root *sneigwh-) is the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European word for snow, large quantities of which have been falling in NYC and will supposedly continue doing so until there are 12 to 16 inches on the ground; we went into Manhattan to enjoy it to the full in Central Park, checked out the snowball fight (not very impressive in extent, but full of enthusiasm), and watched a bunch of happy dogs. Winter is definitely here.

Lest you think the PIE form was simply a cheap excuse to tell you about my day, here are some other descendents of the PIE root (cf. Pokorny’s entry and the The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English dictionary):

Vedic snihyate, Av. snāēƶaiti it snows = Lat. ninguit, Gr. νείφει; OIr. snigid it rains; Lat. nix snow = Gr. νίφα = Goth. snaiws, OHG. sneo = Eng. snow; OIr. snige rain = W. nyf; Lith. snie~gas = Latv. sniegs = OPr. snaygis ‘snow,’ Lith. sniẽga it’s snowing (inf. snigti); OCS sněgъ, Russ. снег ‘snow’


  1. I’m sure SNOIGWHOS is an acronym for something. I’m just not sure what…

  2. Interestingly, the eskimos had no word for snow. Not a one. Not 10, 20, or 100. Zero. They’d just keep on saying “What IS this shit?”

  3. does not respond; did you miscopy the address? have you another?

  4. Two decades later: the URL has been replaced with a functioning one. We apologize for the delay.

Speak Your Mind