skift n2 [SND skift n.1 2, skiff n.1 2 “A slight or flying shower of rain or snow”, skiftin “A light fall or sprinkling of snow”]
1 also often skiff, rarely skiffing, skiffling: A light fall of snow (or, rarely, rain); a thin layer of snow or frost on the ground, or of ice on water. widespread exc NEast, Sth, SW See Map
1808 (1898) Hunt Diary 17 PA, May be call’d a green Christmass: a small skift of Snow. 1834 in 1956 Eliason Tarheel Talk 294 NC, Last night we had a little skift of snow. 1857 Harper’s New Mth. Mag. 15.726 nwNC, Well, there was a little skift of snow on the ground, . . but nothing could I see of the sow, nor yet of her tracks. 1897 KS Univ. Qrly. (ser B) 6.57 KS, Skift: a small quantity; as, a small skift of snow; i.e., a light snow. Used only in this connection. 1903 DN 2.329 seMO, There was a skift of snow on the ground in the morning. 1907 DN 3.236 nwAR, Skift (of snow). 1914 DN 4.112 cKS, Skift. . . A thin coat or layer, as of snow. Also, skiff. 1915 DN 4.190 swVA, Skift. . . A thin layer of snow. 1917 DN 4.417 wNC, A thin skift of snow. 1923 DN 5.221 swMO, Skift. . . a light fall of snow. Ibid 236 swWI, Skift. 1930 DN 6.88 cWV, Skiff or skift, as applied to snow, as it seems to be in particular, means a thin coating. 1939 Hall Coll. wNC,eTN, We just got out on the top and there was a little skift of snow a-fallin’. 1940 Hench Coll. wVA, Some months ago I made a note of Tom Alphin’s use of the word “skiff of snow” or “skiff.” . . It is a form that snow takes on cold windy days. . . Little stretches of snow will form on the streets, which will blow along as the wind blows across them. These . . are skiffs. 1949 AmSp 24.113 nwGA, Skift. . . A thin coating. ‘A skift of ice.’ 1953 AmSp 28.254 csPA, Skift, skiff. . . A slight flurry of snow, especially as it swirls and eddies over the ground. ‘There was a skift of snow on the highway, but it wasn’t enough to make it slippery.’ 1954 WELS Suppl. nwMO, In referring to a thin coating of ice my parents said a skiff of ice. I have therefore always used that expression. And I am sure a very old man at a motel in Vicksburg Miss. used the same expression in referring to a small amount of ice on water in a tub. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. B39, A very light fall of snow) 122 Infs, widespread exc NEast, Sth, SW, Skift (of snow); 119 Infs, widespread exc NEast, Sth, SW, Skiff (of snow); VA1, Light skiff of snow; SC32, Skiffing of snow; SC34, Thin skiffing; (Qu. B33a, The first thin ice that forms over the surface of a pond or pool: “There’s just a _____ of ice.”) 37 Infs, chiefly Inland Nth, Midl, Skiff; 24 Infs, chiefly Midl, West, Skift; VA1, Thin skift; SC32, 34, Skiffing; (Qu. B23, . . A light rain that doesn’t last . . it’s just a _____) Inf NM11, Light skiff; (Qu. B29, A frost that does not kill plants) Inf TN30, Skiff of a frost. 1973 Allen LAUM 1.157 Upper MW (as of c1950), First thin coating of ice. . . skiff of ice [8 infs]. . . skiffling of ice [1 inf]. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance, 4 infs, eTN, cwAR, Skift of ice; 1 inf, neAR, Ice skift; 1 inf, cTN, Frozen skift of ice. 2000 Launspach ID Dial. Project 1 seID, (The first thin coat of ice on a pond or lake) 2 infs, Skift of ice; 1 inf, Skiff. Map skiftn21 here.
2 A wisp of clouds.
1891 Riley Swimmin’-Hole 76 IN, Some little skift o’ clouds’ll shet / the sun off now and then. c1920 in 1993 Farwell–Nicholas Smoky Mt. Voices 149 sAppalachians, “A skift o’ clouds.” “A thin skift o’ clouds.” 1967 DARE (Qu. B10, . . Long trailing clouds high in the sky) Inf OR14, Skift of clouds; OH87, Skifts, scuts.