Thursday, January 29, 2009


Is that a word?

Yes, it is. A word I had never heard until the other day when my son said that was what we were having with the snow, fog and ice--a pogonip.
photo from Wikipedia

I had to come home and look it up. And find pictures of it. It's beautiful! What is it?

The Old Farmer's Almanac offers a definition of the pogonip as "ice fog," noting that the word is believed to have originated from a Native American word. Apparently the pogonip is reserved for the valleys of the western US.

I found more complete information and theories about the origin of the term at WordInfo. This author links the term to Greek, not Native American, origins. The photos included in the article are stunning.

Are there any Westerners reading this who can offer more information about this unusual word and the type of frost it describes? Is it the same thing as hoarfrost? Or is there more to the pogonip?


Susan said...

Never heard of it, but it looks gorgeous. Would be a splendid name for a white pony, I think. Ooo I feel a story coming on. LOL

George said...

Bet it was Derek - it's a Louis Lamour book I think.

Janet, said...

That looks like what we've had on the trees around here lately. When you get the ice and snow on them.

Anonymous said...

We get a really neat effect at work when the temperature drops to around 8-9 degrees above zero. In perfect conditions the steam coming off the reclaimed fuel crystalizes in the air. The air is full of millions and millions of tiny sparkles. It looks like some wild Hollywood special effect but I do not think they have ever matched the sheer magnatude and brilliance of this. It is really hard to explain, but it is one of the neatest things I have ever seen.

Never heard of a pogonip...


Granny Sue said...

I feel better now--I'm not alone in not knowing this word. George, you're right, it was Derek that mentioned it. I thought he'd heard of it from someone in the Army.

Susan--a pony named Pogonip. Yeah--pure white, blue eyes, flowing mane. Sort of like the reindeer Silverhoof in Russian folklore. When Silverhoof stampe his foot, jewels sparkled in the snow.

Janet, that is what it lookes like, adn this morning's snow just added to the effect. It makes a pretty if treacherous drive to work.

Aaron, I'd like to see that. It must be beautiful. I don't think I've seen anything like you describe.

Anonymous said...

Had never heard of the word, but have seen the effects of dense fog that covers everything like a thick hoarfrost. Look under Wikipedia and you'll find the word is adapted from Shoshoni, which is a tribe living in southern Idaho. Batsy in Idaho

Cathy said...

I've never heard of that term either and I'm going to quiz my ex as he was always throwing out weather terms I'd never heard of.
I think the Tale of Pogonip sounds great!

bayouwoman said...

So interesting. Did you say where your son heard the word? Impressive!

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