grau·​pel ˈgrau̇-pəl How to pronounce graupel (audio)
: granular snow pellets

called also soft hail

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The word graupel is Germanic in origin; it is the diminutive of Graupe, meaning "pearl barley." According to etymologists, there does seem to be a grain of truth in the assumption that the word grew from the Slavic word krupa, which has the same meaning. Graupel was first seen in an 1889 weather report and has been whirling around in the meteorology field ever since to describe "pellets of snow" or "soft hail" (the latter phrase is an actual synonym of graupel).

Examples of graupel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Yes, even homely, lonely graupel — the soft hail that coated parts of Interstate 8 last winter, making driving a white-knuckle affair. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 July 2023 The heavier showers are likely to contain hail or graupel as cold air aloft and instability kick up stronger showers and possibly thunderstorms. oregonlive, 21 Mar. 2023 Residents across the Petaluma, Sonoma and Napa valleys will wake to to light showers this morning, with a mix of graupel and sleet possible in the highlands – including the Marin Headlands. Gerry Díaz, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Mar. 2023 The snow line will once again fall to around 500 feet this morning, leading to snow showers and graupel along most of the hillsides. Gerry Díaz, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Feb. 2023 A couple showers of rain, snow or graupel are possible. Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2021 Local heavy downpours could last up to 15 minutes and include hail and graupel. Summer Lin, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2023 Wednesday’s storm was the last in a series and moved out of Southern California with a blast, bringing hail and graupel to many communities and plunging snow levels to 1,000 feet in some areas. Nathan Solisstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2023 The snow line will fall to around 800 feet just before sunrise, leading to snow showers and graupel along most of the hillsides. Gerry Díaz, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'graupel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of graupel was in 1889


Dictionary Entries Near graupel

Cite this Entry

“Graupel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

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