A cold snap/ A cold spell

Discussion in 'English Only' started by EnLearner, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. EnLearner Senior Member

    Can I use these words in this way?

    "Last year we experienced a cold snap/ a cold spell; it was the first time I experienced -30 degree."
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yep, I'd have no problem hearing that.
    But 'spell/snap' are used for relatively short periods of time, you'd probably need that to be clear, as you can't have an all-year-round 'cold snap/spell'.
  3. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    Both work but they mean slightly different things.

    "A cold snap", to me, is a sudden drop in temperature overnight that is either unexpected or unseasonable. "A cold spell" could be a prolonged period of cold weather but it may not come on suddenly and it may not be unseasonable.
  4. arueng Senior Member

    Hi, Mentors,

    I have a related question with this thread.

    Does "a cold current" equal "a cold snap" or "a cold spell" in meanings? Thanks.
  5. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England

    No, a cold current is not the same as a cold snap or a cold spell, arueng.
  6. Big Gus Dickuss New Member

    Jimbo is correct in these definitions, and either of the options in your example is acceptable, so apply the one that most closely fits his guide.

    On the other hand, nobody has yet mentioned the brutal misusage at the end of your example: "degrees" is ALWAYS plural when referring to temperature. Always.

    ;) Yes, even when it's zero degrees outside. ;)

    (Okay, this rule doesn't apply to a temperature of EXACTLY 1 degree, but temperature is virtually never exactly 1 so just consider it a hard rule to always use the plural degrees.)
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Is there something in the definition of current that makes you think that?
  8. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Cold current" brings to mind the "El niño/la niña" weather cycles in the Southern Pacific ocean.

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