Bobsleigh vs. bobsled, snowmobile vs. snow machine

(Yes, I’m watching the 2-woman Bobsleigh event.)

I grew up calling the sleds ‘bobsleds’. Over the past three or four Winter Olympic Games, I’ve heard them called ‘bobsleighs’. That term is creeping into my use; but I still like ‘bobsled’.

How long has ‘bobsleigh’ been used in U.S. Olympic coverage? As I said, I was not familiar with the term until about a dozen years ago. I don’t remember hearing ‘bobsleigh’ growing up. (But I did ride the Bobsled at Disneyland and the Sarajevo Bobsled at Magic Mountain.)

I have the same question about ‘snowmobile’ vs. ‘snow machine’. I never heard the latter until I moved to Washington.

A snowmobile is a vehicle that will take you places in the snow, similar to a motorcycle. A snow machine is a device that makes snow when the weather is uncooperative, often used at ski slopes.

Snow machine is the preferred term in Alaska as well.

And it has nothing to do with a machine that makes snow.

I went on the Alyeska resort website to see if they even made snow there. I would guess if you asked an Alaskan what they called the equipment used to make snow, they would just look at you with a confused look on their face.

A snowblower is the term I have heard for a device to make snow (at ski areas), I have never heard it once till this post heard it refereed to as a snow machine. A snow blower is also the term commonly used for the snow removal device commonly used on driveways, but I have heard the term snowthrower used instead as not to use the term snowblower.

Snowmachine I would take as a snowmobile this time and every time.


To me, a “snowmobile” is an open vehicle for traveling over snow, a “snow machine” is a device for making snow at a ski slope, and a “snowblower” is a device for removing snow from a sidewalk or driveway, with no overlap at all between the terms.

I lived in Alaska (Anchorage) for three years and have never heard the term ‘snow machine’. Hearing the term, I would also presume it was a machine for making snow.

I’m with Chronos. But interestingly, Wikipedia’s article on Snow machine is a disambig page, offering all three options.

Didn’t watch the local news much?

Snowmobiles are being called snow machines up here now, too. It’s sort of a redneck term, though - I try to use a heavy Yooper accent and a stiff jaw when I say it. It’s also appropriate to add “eh” at the end:

“Ya dat Eino, he’s got a new snow machine now eh? I seen it when I was at his camp last week.”

So what about bobsleigh vs. bobsled?

That’s interesting. I’ve seen it written out as such, but I’ve never heard an American speaker say “bobsleigh,” to my knowledge, and I’ve been hearing all sorts of talk on various stations, including NPR I believe, about the US winning their first medal in 2-man bobsled in many years. Although, I suppose it’s possible my brain is just adding a “d” to the end. I’ll have to pay closer attention to the news. “Bobsleigh” sounds completely unnatural and foreign to me. ETA: And, yeah, just checked the NBC Olympics site, and it’s “Bobsled” up there. “Bobsleigh” sounds UK English to me.

"Snow Machine’ is, in my experience, universally used in Alaska for what the rest of us call snowmobiles.

“Snowmobiles” is the only term used by my … snowmobile owning relatives. Been doing it since they generally became available.

The Palins became notorious during the 2008 election for making fun of anyone using the term “snowmobile”. I have no idea what they thought was wrong with it given the near universal use of the term elsewhere.

It’s like making fun of people who say “soda” instead of “pop”.

I think Alaskans don’t worry too much about making snow*, so “snow machine” may not sound so ambiguous to them. Ditto other places where snow making is uncommon.

  • They might be making some ice, though, this year for the Iditarod.

The only time I watch the event is during The Olympics. (I haven’t noticed any televised bobsled races other times.) Growing up, it was always ‘Bobsled’ on ABC. Since I moved here, I watch Canadian coverage of the Olympics because it’s live. So maybe I’ve just been hearing their preferred word.

Born and raised there, living there a total of 30 years. I never heard it called anything else except by people from elsewhere.

I think it is time to quote an authorative source.
Cool Runnings calls it a bobsled. :slight_smile:

Hello every One Good Evening …

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Snowmobile - One track, two skis, people ride for fun
Snow blower - used to clear driveways and sidewalks
Snow machine - Either something that makes snow for ski resorts, or possibly something like