Appalachian Dialect

Still Only Got A Skiff Of Snow

snow on clothesline

skiff noun
A thin layer, small amount (esp in phr skiff/skift of snow = a light fall of snow).
1834 (in 1956 Eliason Tarheel Talk 294) last night we had a little skift of snow. 1904 Kephart Notebooks 2:600 A thin skift of clouds. 1939 Hall Coll. Cataloochee NC We just got out on top, and there was a little skift of snow a fallin’. (Will Palmer) ibid. Cataloochee NC They was a little skiff of snow, and that was how come to see their sign (Steve Woody) 1953 Hall Coll. Plott Creek NC My grandmother has told me that when they first were back there, and they’d be snow or anything, a skift of snow around the pens, they’d be bears and wolf tracks all about there trying to get the stock from the barn. (John Plott) 1966 DARE = the first thin ice that forms over the surface of a pond (Brunsville NC); There’s just a skiff of ice (Spruce Pine NC).
[OED skiff “a slight sketch, trace, touch, etc.” chiefly Scot; cf CUD/HT skift “a light shower”]

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

We got another skiff of snow over the weekend. Even though it wasn’t much snow I’m not complaining. I’ll take what I can get.

Friday night Granny called and told me it was going to snow and I better tell the girls they should stick close to home. I didn’t tell them because the weather I watched said all we’d get were flurries, but I did tell The Deer Hunter what Granny called to tell me.

Early the next morning when I went into the kitchen he said “Come here and look Granny was right.” Sure enough a quick look out the back door showed everything was covered with a skiff of white snow.

I’m still hoping for a big snow before spring of the year gets here. If you have any extra at your house please send it my way 🙂


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  • Reply
    February 2, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    I’m like you, I ♥️ LOVE ❤️ the snow!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 1, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    I didn’t get any of the snow they predicted this past weekend. They were only calling for .04 inches. I don’t know how you would measure that! It would take 25 times that much to add up to an inch. Anyhow, I don’t think it snowed at all. Before you start feeling sorry for me, I still have snow from a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know how much I got then. Dusty said he got about 8 inches at his house but the wind blew so hard here that it was deeper in low places and left exposed places almost bare. One end of the roof of my shed didn’t have any snow and the other about 4 inches. The wind kept the snow off of the trees so the winter wonderland we get sometimes didn’t happen. Thankfully the ice they predicted after the snow didn’t happen either. The lights didn’t even flicker. We did get some unusually cold weather afterward which froze the snow and in areas that get no direct sunlight it is still there.

  • Reply
    Shirley Brumfield Stone
    February 1, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    We’ve had more than a skift of snow this Jan. and looking to get a lot more this weekend. BOO, I’m still hibernating. I hope how soon spring comes.

  • Reply
    Deborah Mantha
    February 1, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    We use the phrase, “skiff o’ snow” here in Montana too…I think of it as any snowfall under 1 inch. I don’t ever recall anyone ever saying, “We got a 1/2 inch o’ snow last night.” It is always “a skiff”. But I don’t think I ever heard it until coming to Montana. I lived a couple years, as a child, in the mountains of Southern CA where we saw plenty of snow, but I don’t remember hearing the word “skiff”. Many Montanans have Appalachian heritage I think…lots of Irish, lots of mining in their background. My husband’s family came out of the PA coal mines back in the 1860’s during the gold rush. Anyway, like you, we are wishing for more than a skiff of snow in our mountains to feed the rivers that run through our valleys and irrigate the alfalfa and wheat we grow here in Southwestern Montana.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 11:47 am

    I hated snow growing up, because it seemed to cause such hardships in our mountains. School was never called off no matter what, and our principal made us adhere to the dress code of no pants just dresses or skirts. But, guess what I missed the most when I lived in the wonderful state of Louisiana for a time. Yep, it was the snow. Snow seemed to bring our mountaintop community closer, and Mom had a little country store for a time. It had a pot bellied stove, and we loved to warm our feet around it. Chains had to be applied to vehicles, and my dad was the best driver I ever knew. He would speed up and the car would just glide around a slight incline on a slick horseshoe turn. There was such a sense of peace no matter what was going on. We managed to shop, go to school, and yes even court using snow filled slick roads, and sometimes a prayer.
    I love to tell the story about when I had gotten a new 4 wheel drive truck. 4 wheel drive is overrated when you have ice under the snow. My tiny granddaughter was with me once when I was coming up a slick part of highway called Crumpecker Hill in my new truck. I had not known to put weight in the back. The bed was shimmying back and forth on this steep part of the highway. I begin to pray nonstop until we finally reached the top where I let out a sigh of relief. I asked her, “Honey were you praying?” To which she replied, “No Nana, I was cussing.” The most amusing thing to me has always been the utterances of small children.

  • Reply
    Robert Hale
    February 1, 2022 at 11:36 am

    We here in Mutual,Ok western part, are due for 4-8 inches of snow tonight thru Thursday.
    Like you we would take more. The drought situation here since summer is “exceptional” drought conditions now cover almost the entire state” Normally we get 15-17 inches per year.. The far southeast part of the state gets close to 80 inches per year…:)

  • Reply
    Chadd Newman
    February 1, 2022 at 10:55 am

    My family has a running joke nearly 40 years old involving this phrase. We were on a family trip over Christmas vacation when my mother blurted out, “Look! A skiff of snow!” For some reason, the entire family burst out laughing, probably because Momma tends to be somewhat reserved. Ever since, whenever any of us sees a skiff of snow, we have to announce it as such. One of my sisters saw this post and forwarded it to the whole family.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 10:39 am

    I’m now in the Piedmont area of NC. We got a skiff of snow this past Saturday, but it was gone by Monday. Keep in mind in the Carolinas we usually get our worse weather in February, so it came early this year. I’ve heard some old timers say we still have more to come according to the all black wooly worms they found in the Fall. I found both all black and black ends with reddish middle wooly worms in our yard this Fall, so not sure what that’s suppose to mean. I’m fine either way when it comes to snow. It’s the ice I don’t like during the winter. It takes down tree branches or sometimes the entire tree, can’t drive on ice covered roads, power outages and for us on well water, no power, no water. We have fire log insert to provide heat when power goes out, but still not as warm as wood burning stove and I can’t cook with the log insert either. I’ve learned to keep bread, peanut butter and applesauce or jelly in stock for power outages. I’m fine with snow, but no ice please.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 10:27 am

    We have only gotten a couple snowfalls so far and only around 2-4 inches. I’m like you Tipper, I would like to have a big snow before winter’s end. I think it is beautiful, the yard, trees and bushes blanketed in white and seeing footprints of all the critters that have walked through it. I love to sit by a window with a cup of hot chocolate and watch it as it falls. A walk through the woods is nice too, so peaceful and quiet.

  • Reply
    Wanda Benzing
    February 1, 2022 at 10:04 am

    We had 4 inches of snow last week in N KY. We are supposed to get more this weekend. Hope you get more than a skirt of snow this winter. I love reading all of your posts.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    February 1, 2022 at 9:54 am

    We have had one big snow, about 7 inches, here in middle Tennessee. Then we had an inch or so about a week later and then just a skiff the last time. I would love another big one! Those only seem to come around once in a while.
    I sure hope you get a good one this year!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 9:29 am

    On the sixth of January, we got 8.5″ of snow. Louisville got less but it was enough to shut everything down. Folks were stuck on the expressway for hours due to the number of wrecks. It took my daughter three hours to drive the last two miles to her home way out in the country. I watched the storm on the radar and it looked like it was headed to my hometown before sliding on over to your town. I’m sorry it passed you by. Last Friday, the 28th, we got another 3 or 4″. It was in the 40s yesterday and still didn’t melt it all. The storm they are predicting for this Thursday has got us all cutting firewood and checking our generators. The weather channel is saying we could get lots of ice and a total of 12-18″ of ice and snow combined. Sure wish I could share with you.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 9:07 am

    Good Morning Tipper, Honey you can have all the snow from my neck of the woods any time. I only want to see it at Christmas and be done with it. We are getting a bad storm heading our way starting Wednesday with rain, then freezing rain, ice and then approximately 3-6 inches of snow by Thursday. Here in Ohio you would think people would know how to drive in snow but no they don’t! I guess living close to an Air Force Base brings in a lot of people from different parts of the country/world and that’s why we have the drivers that don’t know how to drive in snow, ice on the other hand, no one should be on that. I’ll box what I can up and sent it to you to enjoy.
    Have a great day and listen to your mother, she knows what she’s talking about. God Bless

  • Reply
    Ray Sugg
    February 1, 2022 at 8:59 am

    My yard in Dutch Cove is still white from last weekend, and we got more this weekend!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 8:50 am

    I don’t intend to sound hateful but after having to drive a 35 mile round trip at all hours of day and night for 38 years in 2 wheel drive pickup trucks with a little weight in the back to work I don’t care if it never snows again. In the south there is a lot of moisture in our snow and before long the roads will soon be more ice than snow. We did get about 4 inches a few weeks ago and a dusting or skiff the next weekend. Tipper I hope you get your big one but keep it it up there, don’t let it come to Greenville County, SC. Age may have something to do with me feeling this way too.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    February 1, 2022 at 8:19 am

    Over the weekend, we got a skiff of snow here on the Cumberland Plateau. It was just enough that everything looked sugar frosted. Our first two snows this year were both 5 to 6 inches each.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    February 1, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Aww shucks, Tipper, I wish you could get more than a skiff of the white stuff. (Snow is a dirty word here at my place. Lol) I tried to pack a shoebox of snow for you but like Frosty, it’s only a puddle now. Lol. My next idea is to abscond with a giant snow making machine from the local ski resort for you. That way you’ll have snow any time! Seriously, though, wouldn’t it be fun in July to make a bunch of snow and invite all your peeps? And the next time Granny tells you ANYthing, you listen to her!!! She’s got more knowledge than all the weather reports combined. I’ve noticed the weather just pulls random numbers of temps from under a rabbit cause they are usually fudged up more than a few degrees from truth… it must be nice to to be the truth ministry from George Orwell’s 1984…

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Bostick
    February 1, 2022 at 7:48 am

    I’m dreaming of that big snow too.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 1, 2022 at 7:15 am

    No snow here now. Just had the one, more than a skiff but not by much, about 2 inches and gone in two days. This isn’t really snow country so we can’t help you much. I’d send you 6″ or so if I could. Lots of moist Gulf air colliding with an Arctic cold front over your house would do the trick and late winter is a better time for that.

    You take me back to my childhood so often. I hear the echoes of voices long stilled and remember a time long gone. Dad used to say about us kids every once in a while, “They don’t know they’re living their best years.” And we didn’t because we couldn’t.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 6:39 am

    Later this week in Texas, we’re supposed to get a skiff of snow and a dollop of ice (not sure what word you would use for ice lol). I’ll bag up what I can and send it to you.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 6:20 am

    I sure wish I could send you some snow. I’m so glad that what we did get here in Beech Mt. NC is melting. I’m not a skier, snow boarder, etc. I do love to walk around our farm after it snows and admire all the beautiful snow covered trees, snow on rocks, etc.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    February 1, 2022 at 6:17 am

    I was surprised with the snow Friday night, too. I had not paid attention to the forecast for a couple of days beforehand. I got an inch or so of new snow during Friday night. All the snow is gone now, except on the north side of the house in places, and in shady areas. There are still piles of snow from the plows clearing roads, though. Yesterday as I was out and about, I caught myself just looking past the piles. When I lived in Iowa, that was a normal sight all winter and spring. It doesn’t snow at my house here in North Carolina like it did in the Midwest, and I do miss that. When I moved back to San Diego after living in Iowa for a couple of years, I was happy to be back to my familiar Southern California stomping grounds, but I really did miss the winters of the Midwest. So, yesterday when I caught myself being blah about the piles of dirty snow, I made myself see them as I did my first winter in Iowa. I have been loving the several snowfalls this winter here. Just out of curiosity, was a lot of snow more common years ago in North Carolina? I remember a couple of years in Iowa when there was only a couple of inches all season, but that was not the norm. I know weather goes in cycles, so I am just wondering what it was like say 60, or 100 or more, years ago. What were the “normal” winters like long ago?

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    February 1, 2022 at 6:16 am

    I know folks who don’t get much snow really enjoy the snow but I’m sick of it Tipper and if I could give it to you, I would! I’m up here in Maryland and we don’t even have what others have gotten. Still, I’d just as soon be done with it. Grans have a way of knowing, don’t they?

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