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21 comments on this post.
  1. L.Owens:

    Growing up in a Midwest family with Origins of german and welch a skiff of snow was used as a light dusting (1″ OR LESS).

  2. KayeM:

    I was pleased to find your article and also the comment left by L.Owens. I’m from eastern Canada and my Maine born husband thought I was crazy – he’d never heard the term “skiff” except as type of small boat.
    “It must be a Canadian thing” was his response. A little internet research showed me the word’s Scottish origins and since the Scots have made their way to many parts of the world including the U.S. it’s obviously not just a “Canadianism”. (Hubby is low on the Scottish blood himself so I will excuse his lack of knowledge). Many thanks!

  3. waxxod:

    If you take a swipe at a football and barely touch it, you’d say you’d skiffed it, at least in the part of East Scotland where I grew up.

  4. Ratatouille and a Gray Winter Day:

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  5. A. Junius:

    Does anyone know the saying that goes “If if were a skiff, we’d be paddling on the river,” or something similar to this?

  6. Jeff W.:

    The way I heard it was, “If if were a skiff, we could hop in and sail away.” That goes back to roughly 40 years ago, so I have no idea where I saw or heard it.

  7. October 26, a skiff of snow « SCB Citizen:

    [...] 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 [...]

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  9. Dot McQueen:

    I’m from Edinburgh in the East Coast of Scotland and talk about a skifter of snow meaning a very light covering. My husband, who is also from Edinburgh, thinks I made it up as he’s never heard the word!!

    And BTW, we have a skifter of snow this morning for the first time this year.


  10. B. Graham:

    YES! I just used the term “skiff” of snow, wondered about its origin, looked it up, and found only the boat definition. I grew up in Iowa and the term was used by everyone. I am glad I found this posting as I was starting to wonder if it was one of those words I had misheard over the years and it really didn’t exist.

  11. K. Wright:

    Vindicated at last! My family always said a “skiff” of snow. We are from Ontario. Like B. Graham’s post above, I began to wonder if I made the word up as a rarely have heard it used other than by me. Thanks for the research.

  12. A Skiff of Snow | Brent Logan:

    [...] Logan A skiff of snow idled on my car this morning. Categories: Photographs Tagged: hillsboro, show Comment [...]

  13. Duane Dowden:

    “Skiff” has been used as a universally understood word since I was very young boy in the 1950′s Upper Midwest – and certainly before my time. It has always been implied as a small amount of snow that mostly blew around and left very little accumulation. It seems a “skiff” had more to do with a small accumulation then behavior.
    My small town South Dakota upbringing was inspired with colorful words and phrases. “Pop” was always the word used for a bottle of flavored soda, like Dr. Pepper. “Ufdah” pronounced oof dah can mean many different things – for me it’s a way of expressing astonishment or I use it in place of a swear word!! “For cripe sake” – probably a safer way of saying for Christ Sake. The list goes on and on. We should thank the midwest for colorful language.

  14. Suzanne gillman:

    Thank you! I used this word to describe yesterday’s snowfall. Husband thought i was mad. My family and our local weathermen always refer to a skiff of snow in Southern Alberta, Canada

  15. elle j:

    I’m a born and raised Albertan and all of these sayings are part of my upbringing

  16. Beth Nace:

    I am a native Oregonian and I have always used skiff for a light dusting of snow. A youngster today questioned my word, so I wanted to look it up and make sure it wasn’t something my family made up. Happy to see other comments.

  17. James Nickerson:

    I think the correct word is “skift”

  18. David Russell Watson:

    The word used for a light snow, rain, or wind is “skift”, not “skiff”, according to Merriam-Webster online.

    See .

  19. Ann Adams:

    My late husband was from NE Tennessee, which was settled by a lot of Scotish/Irish/English, so a lot of their expressions seem to have originated there. The first I ever heard “skiff” was from him, and living in SW Ohio, I seldom hear it used here. I do use it, but people sometimes question what it means. Glad to know it’s a good term! I like it better than “dusting” of snow, and it reminds me of him!

  20. Ed:

    I grew up in SE Ohio and we referred to a light snow as either a “skiff” or as a “skift” of snow. Both expressions were used. SE Ohio also was settled by a lot of Scots/Irish/English, so I guess the Scottish origin of the word makes sense.

  21. Katharine:

    My mom was Low German heritage and raised in N. Missouri. She always used the term “skiff of snow”. I, like many above, was beginning to fell I’d imagined it, so I asked her and she affirmed that, in her mind, it meant a light dusting of very dry snow, the kind that drifts across the Interstate like sand. She “thought” it was spelled with only one “f” thus: “skif”. But she may have picked that up from her mom, who learned reading and writing in S. Germany. Seems it’s universal, but so few children paid attention that it’s nearly died out.
    Let’s revive it!
    And thanks for this post!!!

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