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Blizzard! Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Vocabulary

In New York, we are awaiting a huge blizzard just several weeks before the first day of spring. But did you know that the word “blizzard” is actually a loanword–from English to French?

Courtesy of Andrea at Flickr.com

The exact etymology of “blizzard” is unknown, although it was first used in the eighteenth century in Minnesota and it has been claimed to have been of Germanic origin. From the northern United States, the word spread to northern European countries and to France. If you speak of un blizzard (ble-EZ-ar), in French, you will be understood.

Although you might hear the word le blizzard in French, there are a lot of other words to describe a snowy winter storm. In French, you might also hear about une tempête de neige, which more generally translates as a snow storm, or une tourmente de neige. Both of these words express an accumulation of snow, although not at the intensity and with the sustained winds of a blizzard.

We are anticipating a possible whiteout tomorrow. The French word for this is un blanc dehors. But there are other beautiful words to describe a whiteout in French: un temps laiteux and un voile blanc. Literally, this means, respectively, “milky weather” and “a white veil.” Poetic, right?

Here are some other snowy weather vocabulary words to help those of you who are in the blizzard’s path get through:

it’s cold out — il fait froid

a cold spell — une vague de froid

the ice — la glace

the snow — la neige

the hail — la grêle

it’s snowing — il neige

it’s icing — il gèle

a snowflake — un flocon de neige

the winter — l’hiver

a snowman — un bonhomme de neige

slippery — glissant

a snow shovel — la pelle à neige 

For those of you who will be going through the blizzard tomorrow, restez au chaud (stay warm)!


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About the Author:Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at http://www.imaginistwriter.com. A la prochaine!

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