In a world of 7,000 languages, there’s never an excuse to be at a loss for words. Check out these cold weather phrases from around the world that’ll make anyone who owns a parka and snow boots say ‘Yup, I’ve been there.’
1. Soare cu dinţi — A sunny, but cold day (Romanian)
It happens to the best of us — lulled into a false sense of security in the middle of winter by the sun shining through your window, only to walk outside and get smacked in the face by an icy wind, scarf and hat long left behind in the warmth of your home. Soare cu dinţi (sooAHreh koo deentz) is a Romanian phrase that encapsulates this very phenomenon. Actually translating to ‘sun with teeth,’ the word is used to describe a clear, sunny day that looks pleasant, but is actually biting cold when you go outside.
2. Kogarashi — Winter’s first wind (Japanese)
The Japanese word 木枯らし kogarashi defines that first chill in the air, the brisk wind that blows the autumn leaves to the ground, and warns us of the imminent arrival of a cold winter. Used in Japanese poetry since the Edo period, this word has scientific value too, as Japan’s Meteorological Agency records the first kogarashi every year.
3. Friolero — A person who is sensitive to cold temperatures (Spanish)
Does this list make you want to curl up under the covers and not leave the house until spring? You might be friolero (freeohLEHroh), which is Spanish for someone who is sensitive to the cold. However, in Latin American Spanish, the word is friolento (freeohLEHntoh).
4. Apricity — The warmth of sunshine in winter (English)
Not all cold weather words are negative, take the English word apricity (ahPREEsiti), for example. Taken from the Latin aprīcitās, apricity means the warmth of the sunshine in wintertime. A rare, but wondrous anomaly.
5. Dreich — Cold, wet, dreary weather (Scots)
The Scottish have a word to describe the cold, wet, dreary weather the country is famous for, and that word is dreich — pronounced ‘dreekh’, with a distinctive Scottish ‘kh’ sound at the end. Old Scots in origin, the word is commonly used to describe weather devoid of any warmth or sunshine, usually soggy, foggy, and cold. Commonly used amongst the Scottish (who have been known for their love of weather chitchat), many lean into the descriptor as a matter of pride, even once voting dreich as their country’s favorite word in a nationwide poll.
6. Il fait un froid de canard — Freezing cold weather (French)
Il fait un froid de canard (eel fay u(n) frwad kanar), literally ‘duck-like cold,’ is a French expression that essentially means it’s freezing out. Where do the ducks come in? The phrase is thought to originate from the fact that when it’s cold, ducks migrate to warmer climates, giving French hunters a chance to snag them before they go.
7. Koselig — A cozy, warm feeling (Norwegian)
The Norwegian word koselig (KOHsehlih) loosely translates to a feeling of coziness, but includes more than just that. Yes, it means candles, warm fireplaces, hot beverages, and wool socks, but it also encompasses a sense of community. Surviving the cold, dark winter days means searching out koselig with the ones you love, and cultivating a sense of togetherness.
8. Gluggaveður — Weather that is only nice to look at (Icelandic)
Imagine a cozy, winter evening sitting next to a fireplace while you watch the snowflakes fall outside, blanketing everything. Holiday lights reflect off the snow and everything looks peaceful, even the sounds of the busy streets are muffled. Now, imagine you have to get up and go to work. Gluggaveður (GLOOGahveh-thoor) is an Icelandic word that translates to ‘window-weather,’ meaning weather that’s nice to look at (while you’re safely inside), but not so nice to have to go out in.
9. Takatalvi — A cold snap (Finnish)
The snow melted long ago, the sun is shining, and you think it’s finally time to bust out your warm-weather wardrobe, then takatalvi (tahkahTAHlevih) strikes — and you sheepishly slip out of your flip-flops just to pull on your snow boots again. Many of us have experienced the sudden recurrence of cold weather in spring or even summer, but the Finnish gave it a name: takatalvi.
Want to learn more words and phrases (perhaps some warmer ones) that are unique to other languages and cultures? Check out one of our 70+ courses packed full of cultural tips, idioms, and country facts to equip you with the confidence you need to start speaking like a local. Or, jump back in where you last left off in your Mango learning.
Know more unique weather words or phrases? Share them with us in the comments!