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October 26, a skiff of snow

October 26, 2011

While areas west and south got enough snow today to cause cars to leave “snow turds” (those icy, black chunks that break from beneath the wheel well) on the road this morning, there was only enough accumulation here in Scottsbluff to lightly coat the handrails of my deck. (Much to the disappointment of Bugman’s Brazilian student, who really wanted to see snow.)

My friend, Country Chicken Girl, commented on a Facebook post about the weather, “We just had a skiff…”

A man who stopped by the museum today said, “We got a skiff.”

Two people saying “skiff” in the same day!

I didn’t think that term was terribly common, so I decided to link to a definition for my “first snow of the season” picture.

I checked several online dictionaries, and the only definitions they had for “skiff” were a flat-bottomed rowboat. Huh. That doesn’t make any sense in context.

I pulled out my (beloved but little used) Webster’s unabridged dictionary and found the same problem.

WTH? I and at least two other people use “skiff” to indicate “a dusting of snow,” and none of the dictionaries have caught on to this usage?

I had to turn to the Word Detective for an answer.

“a ‘skiff’ of snow is a light flurry or cover of snow, but you can also have ‘skiffs,’ light showers, of rain, or even a ‘skiff’ of light wind … ‘skiff’ is drawn from the Scots verb ‘to skiff,’ meaning ‘to move lightly and quickly, barely touching the surface”


Well, since we didn’t get a snow day today, I’ll just have to wish you all a “happy skiff day.”

Copyright 2011 by Katie Bradshaw

4 Comments leave one →
  1. suzie busko permalink
    October 26, 2011 11:09 pm

    No “skiff” in Sidney 🙂 — we had wet snow. I had to brush off my apple trees– the leafy branches were bowed. *sigh* First the hail, now heavy-ish snow…

  2. October 27, 2011 6:59 am

    Thank goodness for “Word Detective”. I was beginning to think that for all my life, I had been falsely led to believe that skiff meant a light dusting of snow!

  3. Rick Myers permalink
    October 27, 2011 7:48 am

    Ah, research. Just a “tad” bit of time on a “skiff.” Well done!

  4. October 27, 2011 11:47 am

    Skiffs are easy to take–

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