"Glip of ice" PA regionalism?

Whenever it snows my mother always warns everyone about a “glip of ice” on the road. e.g. “Careful before that intersection, there’s a glip of ice that’s hard to see.” It can also refer to any large covering of ice, like on the driveway or sidewalk. But I’ve known since at least middle school that glip isn’t a real word. So I’m curious if this is an actual Pennsylvania regionalism or if her family (or maybe just her) made it up. She claims everyone from PA said it when she was growing up. Her parents died before I was born. I’ve known people from PA but they’ve all been 20 somethings who have no idea what I’m talking about.

Her background: She was born in 1945 and grew up around Bloomsburg and Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Her parents had German and English ancestors who were mostly farmers.

The only Google hit on “glip of ice” besides this thread references the 1809 diary of one Joseph Price, from the Lower Merion (PA) Historical Society website:

That second variant inspired me to Google “glib ice”, which turns out to be a Canadian idiom for ice that is “particularly smooth and slippery”.

So it looks as though we can tentatively confirm your guess that “a glip of ice” is a Pennsylvania regional variant of a better-known phrase “glib ice”. Thanks to your mom and Joseph Price for this interesting stroll down etymology lane!

My family is from the Bloomsburg area … lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins in Bloom and nearby small towns. I am a couple of years younger than your mother. I have never heard that phrase.

I spent winters in Ontario and Minnesota and I’e never heard that

I grew up in Pittsburgh and lived there for most of my life. While we have plenty of weird sayings, “glip” isn’t one of them.

I was born in Pa and I’ve lived here over 50 years. I’ve never heard that phrase. I’m in the Philly suburbs. Maybe it’s a rural PA thing.

Born and raised in Philly. Never heard it.

I’ve lived in south central PA essentially my entire life, and that’s a new one on me. Maybe it’s PA Dutch English? If so, I wouldn’t imagine you’ll have too much luck getting it confirmed.

“ice glip” shows up in a couple of Finnish websites, but I can’t find a translator that will work it out.

If you heard a phrase in PA, chances are it’s not used anywhere else.

Maybe we could try working backwards to the OP’s expression from what appears to be its original form in a more common phrase, namely “glib ice” (for ice that’s particularly smooth and slippery).

That’s a well-attested phrase that seems to be still in occasional use in the northeastern US and eastern Canada, according to the Google hits I found for it.

So who here has previously encountered the term “glib ice”? And where are you from?

My grandmother used a lot of PA Dutch idioms… but I never heard of a glip of ice.

I spent my entire life (40 years) in suburban Pittsburgh and have never heard the phrase before. I don’t think this is unique to western PA, but I know a lot of people that invent their own words and phrases. I’m “passing the spinach” on this one… :wink:

Could ‘glib’ be an English corruption of ‘gliß’ in German (is that a word?)? Could it be related to ‘glissade’?

I’ve lived in PA nearly 50 years. I’ve never heard that phrase.

I can definitely say this is not an idiom used in NW or SW Pennsylvania.

Another Pennsylvanian here. I’ve seen much ice, but have never heard of glib ice nor glip of ice.

Grew up in SE Pa., went to school in Central Pa., married a girl from Western Pa. Heard a lot of strange words/phrases over the years, but never that.

“Glib of ice” from Bellefonte, PA.


As far as I can tell, there is no German word “gliss” or “gliß”.

The English word glib dates back to the 1590’s in the sense of “smooth, slippery”. (It’s still widely used nowadays to refer specifically to smooth or slippery speech, especially in the sense of being facile or plausible but with connotations of deceptiveness.)

“Glib” is thought to derive from an obsolete term “glibbery” which may originate in Low German “glibberig”, both meaning “slippery”.

Not directly, since “glissade” is French. It is ultimately traced to a Proto-Germanic root *glidan, “to glide”, but AFAICT that’s not cognate with “glibberig/glib”.

It looks to me as though the etymology of “glip of ice” is pretty straightforward, at least according to all the available evidence. It seems almost certain to be a simple corruption of the well-attested phrase “glib ice”, which just means “smooth or slippery ice” (e.g., as used in the 1827 poem “A Winter’s Day” by John Clare):

The challenge here is not figuring out where the phrase “glip of ice” comes from, but tracing its use in Pennsylvania and/or elsewhere. (Hats off to FrustratedIdiot for finding another recorded reference.)