from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The upper part of a glacier where the snow turns into ice.
  • n. A snow field at the head of a glacier.
  • n. The granular snow typically found in such a field.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The firn or snowfield at the head of a glacier.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The upper part of a glacier, above the limit of perpetual snow. See glacier.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A nephew.
  • n. A spendthrift.
  • n. A Middle English form of neaf.
  • n. See næve.
  • n. Same as firn. Also glacier-snow.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the upper part of a glacier (beyond the limit of perpetual snow) where the snow turns to ice


French, from French dialectal névi, from Vulgar Latin *nivātum, from neuter of Latin nivātus, cooled by snow, from nix, niv-, snow; see sneigwh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Swiss French term névi, from Latin nix, nivis ("snow"). (Wiktionary)


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  • A young, granular type of snow that's been partially melted, refrozen and compacted. This type of snow is associated with glacier formation through the process of nivation. Névé that survives a full season of ablation is referred to as firn, which is both older and slightly denser. Firn eventually becomes glacial ice.

    February 12, 2008