Definition of winter in English:



  • 1The coldest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from December to February and in the southern hemisphere from June to August.

    ‘the tree has a good crop of berries in winter’
    [as modifier] ‘the winter months’
    • ‘The climate here is normally split into two seasons, long cold winters and long hot summers.’
    • ‘At the moment the Earth's closest approach to the Sun occurs in January, when the North Pole is pointing away from the Sun, resulting in slightly colder northern hemisphere winters.’
    • ‘It is characterized by cold winters and relatively long growing seasons, averaging 60 frost-free days per year.’
    • ‘But after a cold winter in the southern uplands you may recognise that ending up on a human dinner plate is not so bad.’
    • ‘Flights are suspended to Antarctica around the end of February each year when the Southern Hemisphere winter makes it too cold to fly.’
    • ‘Through February, the usual winter fishing locations should continue to be your best bet.’
    • ‘Therefore, short, cool growing seasons and cold winters are often thought of as barriers to crop growth and diversification in the Subarctic.’
    • ‘The weed, which turns its distinctive red shade during the cold winter months, is not dangerous in itself.’
    • ‘If you are looking for some respite from the cold winter months there is an abundance of destinations to suit all budgets.’
    • ‘During the long, cold winters in northeast China they skate on rivers and lakes or in skating rinks.’
    • ‘The coldest peaks of winter usually occur in August and September, so many fear a heightened emergency.’
    • ‘The frugal vacationer travels in between the summer months and the cold winter.’
    • ‘A leading local politician has urged pensioners to take advantage of a government initiative to heat their homes during the cold winter months.’
    • ‘The season was late winter and periodic night-time frosts were still occurring.’
    • ‘In southern Mongolia, the winters have been getting colder and the summers hotter, with barely a springtime buffer zone.’
    • ‘Gourlay has been looking forward to returning home from Sydney, even if he is loathe to swap the sunshine of a southern hemisphere spring for the cold of a Scottish winter.’
    • ‘I'd buy a house in Gran Canaria to spend the cold winter months.’
    • ‘We're looking at some idea that it might be a colder than normal winter in the Northeast and Midwest.’
    • ‘The opera begins a winter / spring season that includes ballet, comedy, classical music, children's shows and several bands.’
    • ‘The temperate regions of southern Australia have four seasons, with cool winters and hot summers.’
    1. 1.1Astronomy The period from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox.
      • ‘It would put Britain one hour ahead of GMT in the winter and two hours ahead in the summer, giving lighter evenings throughout the year.’
      • ‘Similarly the winters in the north are shorter and milder than they would be otherwise.’
      • ‘Saturnalia celebrated the rebirth of Saturn, the god of the harvest, and the dawn of the new year from the winter's darkness.’
      • ‘Because the Chinese calendar is lunar based, the Chinese new year begins on the 2nd new moon of winter, usually sometime in February.’
      • ‘Spirit and Opportunity have also roved through the worst of the Martian winter with flying colors, and spring is on the horizon.’
    2. 1.2literary Years.
      ‘he seemed a hundred winters old’
      • ‘He spent two winters in what is now called Gjoa Haven.’
      • ‘Several winters ago, I spent a morning in a makeshift ground blind on a rocky hillside near Laredo.’
      • ‘After university, where I did consumer and management studies, I spent a few winters in Australia coaching and playing cricket semi - professionally.’
      • ‘Find those things and nourish them through the summers and winters of this lifetime.’
      • ‘Newman's innings was the first time this summer he had managed to convert a solid start into a significant score and showed many of the skills that earned him Academy recognition two winters ago.’
      • ‘Upon retirement, Hugh and Florence spent 18 wonderful winters in Quartzite, Arizona with many very valued friends.’
      • ‘Hoggard has spent the last two winters playing as overseas professional with Free State in South Africa which is Donald's club and the great man has coached and helped him along.’
      • ‘But before she ended her career she spent two winters, from 1965 to 1967, chartered to operate between Los Angeles and Acapulco for Princess Cruises.’
      • ‘Between 1971 and 1998 she became a much traveled lady and spent 17 winters in Hong Kong with her son Mick who was employed there.’
      • ‘A striker who spent two winters at Highfield Road and enjoyed his best period alongside Macdonald at Newcastle.’


  • 1[attributive] (of fruit and vegetables) ripening late in the growing season and suitable for storage over the winter.

    ‘a winter apple’
    • ‘No purist, he happily uses olive oil in a Thai-style curry paste, chops cress on to avocados and serves pomegranate, a winter fruit, at a summer party.’
    • ‘Classic Bordelaise fruit gives way to a dense texture of winter forest fruits with an elegant, muscular finish.’
    • ‘The others went for the escallops of pork served on a bed of butternut squash purée with wild mushroom brandy sauce and a winter fruit chutney.’
    • ‘Several lines of evidence suggest winter fruit may be important to less frugivorous species as well.’
    • ‘Herbaceous, winter fruit aromas, complex violet and ripe berry fruits with hints of spice and dried orange peel.’
    • ‘Sadly, the accompanying winter fruits were still partially frozen.’
    1. 1.1(of wheat or other crops) sown in autumn for harvesting the following year.
      • ‘As many as two-thirds of the shoots produced in a winter wheat crop may fail to survive to form ears and yield grain.’
      • ‘Soft red winter wheat and corn used were produced on farms in southeast Virginia and obtained from a local grain dealer.’
      • ‘The plots were then overseeded with white mustard, sorghum-sudangrass, winter wheat, or a mix of oat and hairy vetch.’
      • ‘The Paull land has just yielded its last harvest of winter wheat and barley.’
      • ‘The war is already interfering with the harvesting of winter crops and the planting of spring ones.’
      • ‘Varieties of winter wheat used for grain may also be used for forage.’
      • ‘The very warm and dry conditions had seen half of lowland winter barley crops harvested with winter oilseed rape not far behind.’
      • ‘Already, India has reported a 10 percent drop in its winter rice harvest.’
      • ‘Production of winter wheat, harvested in July, was down by up to 50 percent.’
      • ‘In this situation, we plant the hay seed into a nurse crop of winter wheat or spring oats.’
      • ‘The greatest risk is in fields where a winter cereal cover crop has been used.’
      • ‘The study is researching the practice of planting soybeans into cover crops of winter rye.’
      • ‘The fourth data set comes from the growth of a field winter wheat crop.’
      • ‘In the Black Earth region wheat was the predominant winter crop, with rye elsewhere.’
      • ‘The Russian wheat aphid is a major pest of winter wheat and barley in the United States and worldwide.’
      • ‘They introduced wheat as a winter crop alongside maize.’
      • ‘To make a good return from markets, you need to have spring, summer, autumn and winter crops.’
      • ‘The growing cycle of the new oilseeds allows them to be planted after harvest on land used for winter wheat, making two crops a year from the same acreage.’
      • ‘In Kansas, I see that some of the winter wheat has been harvested.’
      • ‘Instead, the stubble of last year's spring barley crop sticks forlornly out of the waterlogged ground where the winter wheat should have been.’


  • 1 (especially of a bird) spend the winter in a particular place.

    ‘birds wintering in the Caribbean’
    • ‘A car provides an excellent mobile observatory for tracking down and observing contingents of pink-footed geese wintering in north-west Norfolk.’
    • ‘Eleven species of migratory warblers wintered in Britain last year.’
    • ‘The pink-footed geese wintering in Britain breed in Iceland and East Greenland.’
    • ‘These birds bred mainly in west Siberia, and wintered as far south as South Africa.’
    • ‘Most years, shorelarks wintering locally linger here until the end of April, with stragglers to the second week in May.’
    • ‘These routes used by migratory birds for passage between wintering and breeding ranges are called flyways.’
    • ‘Like many of the Arctic refuge's birds, snow geese winter in warmer parts of the lower 48 states.’
    • ‘Feeding and squatting in the sun and all indifferent to passing trains, bean geese have wintered in this favoured area of the Yare valley many years.’
    • ‘Although there is a growing literature on wintering strategies in birds, most of the hormone mechanisms remain entirely unknown.’
    • ‘Some continental birds wintering here arrived in Scotland direct from Scandinavia; others enter East Anglia through Holland and Belgium.’
    • ‘Cold weather, a lack of food or disturbance can however cause wintering birds to seek new sites.’
    • ‘The entire breeding population of sedge warblers winters in Africa south of the Sahara.’
    • ‘Migration is an intrinsic behavior of birds that winter in one location and breed in another.’
    • ‘Warblers wintering in Britain can claim the best breeding sites.’
    • ‘The birds wintering in Washington breed in the northern Great Plains, usually beginning by late April.’
    • ‘In wintering birds, conflicts over food are often resolved by threat displays.’
    • ‘The Harris's Sparrow is a rare but regular wintering bird in Washington.’
    • ‘Only one bird - the emperor penguin - will winter on Antarctica and use the frozen continent as a nursery.’
    • ‘For birds wintering at that northerly location, spring migrations may be less arduous, leading to increased survival and breeding success.’
    • ‘American Pipits are present in Washington as breeders, migrants, and wintering birds.’
    1. 1.1[with object]Keep or feed (plants or cattle) during winter.
      • ‘We never wintered cattle there because of its remoteness and lack of shelter.’
      • ‘Heiser doesn't use a backhoe to muck out the corral where he winters his yearlings; he uses a wheelbarrow.’
      • ‘A natural extension to this was a scheme to move animals to the feed rather than the feed to the animals, with both cattle and sheep being wintered away from their own upland holding to the lowlands of the Vale of York.’
      • ‘Neighbouring regions pitied the inhabitants of the Burren, who had to winter their cattle on the mountain slopes to earn a decent living.’
      • ‘During this season, the herders of animals would kill off all the livestock that was not to be wintered over.’
      • ‘Farmers have been unable to bring in ewes for lambing after wintering them on hills and in fields, while calving has also been disrupted.’
      • ‘There are no slatted sheds allowed in Scotland so wintering cattle can be pretty labour intensive.’
      • ‘In the same village, 70-year-old Samba Tutu winters her grain in the middle of the main road.’
      • ‘The cows are wintered at home on arable by-products and are moved to Fleensop to graze in the spring.’
      • ‘Store cattle being wintered with a view to finishing off grass next summer will require 2-3 kg meal/day with poor quality silage.’
      • ‘His cows (he milks 35 Dutch belted, Jerseys, and milking shorthorns) are wintered outdoors on 265 acres of highly erodible land and prior converted wetlands.’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch winter and German Winter, probably also to wet.