né·​vé nā-ˈvā How to pronounce névé (audio)
: the partially compacted granular snow that forms the surface part of the upper end of a glacier
broadly : a field of granular snow

Did you know?

Unless you live on a glacier, you’re unlikely to look out your window and see névé. Névé is snow, yes, but it’s not just “cold white stuff.” Névé is young snow that is hard and granular, the result of partial melting, re-freezing, and compacting, and it forms the surface part of the upper end of a glacier. The word is often used synonymously with another cool (ahem) snow word, firn, although some reserve firn for referring to the stage between névé and glacial ice. The word névé comes from the Swiss dialect of French, and, beyond that, from the Latin word for snow, nix. Our language has used this Latin root to form a veritable mountain of (mostly obscure) words for snow-related things, such as niveous (“resembling snow”) and subnivean (“situated or occurring under the snow”). One nix word is, however, quite familiar: Nevada.

Word History


French dialect (Swiss), from Vulgar Latin *nivatum, from Latin niv-, nix snow — more at snow

First Known Use

1842, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of névé was in 1842


Dictionary Entries Near névé

Cite this Entry

“Névé.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/n%C3%A9v%C3%A9. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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