One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of the needle-like crystals of ice that constitute needle ice. Also as a mass noun: needle ice.
1930s; earliest use found in Geographical Journal. From Swedish pipkrake from pipa + krake, regional variant of klake frozen mud, ice-encrusted path, cognate with Old Icelandic klaki hard-frozen ground, Norwegian klake crust of ice, Danish klage hard-frozen ground (now regional), further etymology uncertain.
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