MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Sledding Vs. Sleighing…What’s The Difference?

Whenever you see a snow-covered hillside, that means one thing: it’s sledding time! Or is it sleighing time? Or maybe tobogganing time? Or what about bobsledding time? Which is it? What’s the difference between them all?

Originally a Dutch word, a sled (or “sledge” as British folks refer to it) is any equipment used to navigate ice or snow while moving downhill. Sled bottoms usually have runners, but they could also have smooth bottoms.

The Dutch word “sleigh”, however, is different: a sleigh is simply a sled on runners that’s pulled by either horses or reindeer (like Santa’s preferred method of transportation). The key is that you aren’t using a sleigh unless you’re being pulled by some sort of animal.

Then there’s the French-Canadian word toboggan, which is a narrow sled made of lightweight wood that has a curved-up front which makes it easier to traverse difficult landscapes. Oh, and toboggans don’t usually have bottom runners.

But then, what about a bobsled? Isn’t that related? Actually, yes it sort of is. A bobsled is a sled with added steering capabilities (such as a steering wheel). Unlike sledding or sleighing, however, bobsledding is actually an Olympic sport.

Now’s the time to start prepping your cold weather transportation needs, before we get the first real snow of the winter. May I recommend starting & sticking with the humble sled? The simplest method is usually the best method.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via Twitter (@AndyWebbRadio), or shoot me an email ([email protected])!

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