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[feern] /fɪərn/
Origin of firn
1850-55; < German (Swiss), noun use of firn last year's, old; cognate with Old English fyrn former, ancient, Gothic fairneis; akin to Old Norse forn ancient. See before Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for firn


another name for névé (sense 1)
Word Origin
C19: from German (Swiss dialect) firn of the previous year, from Old High German firni old
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for firn

"consolidated snow, the raw material of glaciers," 1853, literally "last year's snow, névé," from German Firn, from Swiss dialectal firn "of last year," from Middle High German virne "old," from Old High German firni, related to Old English fyrn "old," Gothic fairns "of last year," from Proto-Germanic *fur-/*for- (see first). The only English relic of a useful word meaning "of last year" that was widespread in Indo-European languages, cf. Lithuanian pernai "last year," Greek perysi "a year ago, last year," Sanskrit parut "of last year."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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firn in Science
Granular, partially consolidated snow that has passed through one summer melt season but is not yet glacial ice. Firn becomes glacial ice once it has become impermeable to liquid water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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