Snow and Ice
(Vocabulary, phrases and idioms)


    Well, it's the second week of December now and last weekend, our little town of Ena saw its first snowfall.
      Ah, snowfall - that's a good word. Snowfall is a good example of a COMPOUND NOUN. A compound noun is when 2 nouns (in this case, snow and fall) come together to form one word. There are several compound nouns connected with snow: snowman, snowball, snowline.... There are also several compound nouns connected with ice: iceberg, icebox... Sometimes compound nouns can be written as one word: iceberg; or they can be written as 2 words: ice cube. There are also several idioms which contain the words, ice and snow.
      This week, let's take a look at some examples of snow and ice words.

    Vocabulary and phrases with snow

    SOME FUN THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH SNOW:

    • You can go snowboarding with friends.
    • You can go outside and make a snowman.
    • You can make some snowballs and challenge your friends to a snowball fight.

    SOME OTHER COMPOUND WORDS:

    • Snow chains: you can put these on your car wheels to make it easier and safer to drive in the snow.
    • Snowline: Some high mountains, especially in areas like the Himalayas have snow on them for 365 days a year. The snowline is the point above which the snow never melts.
    • Snowflake: a tiny piece of snow. They have very beautiful shapes if you look at them through a microscope.
    • Snowplough: a vehicle which is used to push the snow off the roads and open them for traffic (Note: British spelling - plough; American spelling - plow).
    • Snowstorm: a storm with strong winds and heavy snow.
    • Snowdrift: a  deep pile of snow that has been made by the wind.
    • Snowfall: the amount of snow that falls in a particular place (e.g. What's the annual average snowfall in Japan?)
    • Snowbound: unable to move because of the snow. (e.g. There are more than 200 snowbound passengers sleeping in the airport).

    SOME VERBS THAT GO WITH SNOW:

    • The sun's just come out, so the snow should start to thaw/melt very soon.
    • It snowed this morning but it didn't settle. (i.e. It melted without staying on the ground).

    SNOW AS A VERB:
    In the examples above, snow is a noun, but snow can also be used as a verb:

    • It snowed very heavily all day yesterday.

    There are also a few phrasal verbs with snow:

    • We were snowed in last weekend, so we couldn't go anywhere.
    • We tried to drive into town but the roads were snowed up, so we had to turn back.

    Vocabulary and phrases with ice

    ICE FOR FOOD & DRINK:
    Of course, ice is sometimes kept in the kitchen. We can eat ice-cream, put ice cubes in our drinks, and keep champagne in an ice bucket. British children also eat ice lollies; American children eat the same thing but call them popsicles.

    SOME OTHER COMPOUND WORDS:

    • The Ice Age: A historical period thousands of years ago when large parts of the earth were covered with ice.
    • Iceberg: a large mass of ice floating in the sea. The Titanic was sunk by an iceberg.
    • Icebox: (American English) an old-fashioned name for refrigerator.
    • Ice-cold: Extremely cold (e.g. It's really hot today - I'd love a nice, ice-cold beer).
    • Ice rink: the place where you can play ice hockey or go ice-skating.
    • The polar ice caps: the ice at the North and South Poles. Many people are afraid that these will melt because of global warming.

    SOME SPECIAL COLLOCATIONS:

    • When the roads are covered by very thin ice which is difficult to see, we call it black ice.
    • When the roads are covered with ice and dangerous to drive on, we can say that the roads or the ice are treacherous.

    Ice and Snow - some idiomatic expressions

    SNOWED UNDER:
    Sorry. I can't go out tonight. I'm completely snowed under with work.
    (I have an incredibly large amount of work to do)

    A SNOWBALL EFFECT:
    The recent success of many young Asian women golfers has had a snowball effect on the popularity of the game. (Adapted from an article in Asia Week).
    (= the popularity of the game has become bigger, and bigger, and bigger).

    <>BREAK THE ICE:
    (At a party) Everyone seems a little shy tonight, so let's play a little game to break the ice.
    (= create a more friendly, relaxed atmosphere).

    PUT (SOMETHING) ON ICE:
    I planned to finish my report this week, but three of our employees are sick, so I've had to put it on ice for the moment.
    (= leave a project unfinished, but plan to finish it at a later date).

    Exercise

    Fill the blanks in the following sentences with either SNOW or ICE:

    1. You ask me if I'm busy! I'm absolutely _______ed under this week!
    2. They're building a new _______ rink in the city centre.
    3. We got caught in a really heavy _______storm yesterday evening and we had to spend the night in the car.
    4. Do you believe in the Abominable _______man?
    5. Drive carefully tonight. There's a lot of black ______ on the roads.
    6. Let's go outside and have a _______ball fight.
    7. They say that if the _______caps melt, some South Sea islands will completely disappear.
    8. I always like to start each new course with an ______-breaking activity. It helps the students to relax.
               Please click here to check your answers.

    Click below if you want to try some of my other one-point lessons:
    Bob's One-Point Weekly Lesson Archive.

    © Robert E. Jones, 2005