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Snow, Ice, and Permafrost Glossary: Introductory Note: Encyclopedia Arctica Volume 1: Geology and Allied Subjects
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Snow, Ice, and Permafrost Glossary: Introductory Note


Introductory Note

This glossary aims to be useful in standardizing the terminology
related to snow, ice, and permafrost. An all-inclusive glossary of arctic
terms is being postponed for a later volume of the Encyclopedia.
The present glossary excludes man-made things, such as ice anchor and
snowhouse. In spite of their relationship to ice, terms such as moraine,
widely used and competently defined in dictionaries, were also generally
ruled out. Foreign-language synonyms are given only if they are frequent
in the literature.
Glossaries from U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office publications, some of
them in part compiled for the Hydrographer in the Stefansson Library, and
those of British Admiralty publications formed the nucleus of the glossary.
Another considerable source is memoranda written by Stefansson for U.S.
Government purposes, between 1936 and 1950, which are either on file as
manuscripts in Government offices or have been used in classified documents.
Most of the other material is from eighty-odd sources listed in the bibli–
ography. Finally there was correspondence with leading authorities,
especially on controversial points of usage, supplemented by personal
conferences in a few cases.
The linguistic source of most terms is indicated, with the exception
of those which are of English origin or which have become indentified with
English through long usage. Foreign-language equivalents are labeled:


D Danish I Icelandic (Old Norse)
E Eskimo N Norwegian
F French R Russian
Fi Finnish S Swedish
G German Sp Spanish
W Welsh
When a word within a definition is italicized (underscored), it is to
indicate that it is either foreign or defined elsewhere in the glossary.
In some cases the Old Norse form of a Scandinavian word has been pre–
ferred to Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish because the Norse is ancestral to
all three and its use obviates the delicate question of whether Danish, Nor–
wegian, or Swedish spelling should be singled out as preferable to other
spellings. In most cases the Old Norse form of a Scandinavian word is iden–
tical with the modern Icelandic.
In the use of the non-English words in this glossary it is important
to keep in mind that in the Scandinavian languages, and in most of the others,
the letter “j” has the sound of English “y” in yes. The Scandinavian vowel
“ö” or “ø” is like German ö or like our “e” in her or our “u” in fur. One
of the hardest words in this glossary to guess the pronounciation of, from
the English-language point of view, is the potentially useful Icelandic name
of a strikingly Icelandic glacier phenomenon, jökul-hlaup,; but the word is not
really hard to pronounce if it is remembered that the sounds of j and ö are as
just described and that the “au” is like “oei” in the French word for eye,

EA-I. Glossary

The glossary contains terms no longer in active use, the largest number
of these related to sailing ships and sailor ways of the days before steam.
They are retained partly for historical reasons but more as possibly useful
to readers of books and other records that have been preserved to us from
the age of sail.
The citing of an authority in connection with a definition usually means
that the definition or discussion rests on this authority, but in some cases
it is merely that the authority has been seriously considered even though the
views of another, or a composite of the views of several others, have been
preferred, in the main or wholly.
An 88-page first draft of the glossary, essentially a questionnaire,
was sent out in mimeographed form to more than two dozen authorities on
various aspects of the snow, ice, and permafrost field, to get their agree–
ments and disagreements and to obtain suggestions for additions, omissions,
and other changes. All but two or three replied, and most of those who replied
had evidently put a great deal of thought into their comments, some doing
extensive work, including special research. On the basis of these contribu–
tions a second draft of the glossary was circulated. The present 121-page
version is the product.
Were it not that our collaborators are so numerous, we would have thanked
each one of them here by name; and some especially for having contributed an
incredibly large amount of time, thought, and work. The Editors hope that
from this glossary these contributors will derive some reward, at least in
that it proves a useful pioneer in its relatively new field.
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
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