Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Snass


[snas] or [snaws] — noun.

Meaning: Rain.

Origin: Of obscure origin, likely a manufactured onomatopoeia. Possibly Kathlamet Chinook ch’as ch’as ch’as representing the noise of rain.

A highly expressive word for rain, “snass” is said to have rhymed with the English “moss”, and is the foundation for many Chinook Wawa words and expressions regarding meteorological activity. One can inform another that it is currently raining by saying “snass chako”, or say “tomollah snass” (rain tomorrow) if it is expected in the near future. A light rain shower outside is called  “tenas snass”, while while a drop in temperature might bring “kull snass” (ice) or even “cole snass” (snow; hail). Occasionally the word “makah” would be used for both rain and snow, though this appears to be a local variant, possibly derived from the name of the Makah First Nation which makes their home on the western tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The expression for “storm” was a little more fluid, with a rain storm being referred to as “hiyu snass” or “mesachie snass”, or occasionally “tamanass makah”, though wind storms would be addressed as “tamanass wind” or “mesachie wind”.

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