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Iglu vs. Igloo: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 29, 2024
Iglu is the Inuit word for house or shelter, while Igloo is the English adaptation specifically referring to a dome-shaped snow house. Both terms relate to shelters, but their cultural and linguistic contexts differ.

Key Differences

Iglu is a term used in the Inuit language to describe any type of shelter or house. It is not limited to snow structures but can refer to any form of dwelling that provides shelter. Igloo, on the other hand, is an English term that specifically denotes a traditional dome-shaped snow house built by the Inuit people. These structures are primarily associated with winter survival, constructed from blocks of compacted snow and designed to insulate against the harsh Arctic cold.
While iglu encompasses a wider range of housing types within the Inuit context, igloo in English has a more narrowed and specific meaning, focusing on the architectural ingenuity of snow houses. This distinction highlights the broader cultural significance of iglu compared to the more specialized connotation of igloo.
In traditional Inuit culture, iglus could be made of various materials like sod, wood, or stone, depending on the region and available resources. Igloos, however, are specifically crafted from snow, utilizing the material's insulating properties to create a warm interior environment despite freezing external temperatures.
The use of iglu underscores a cultural connection to Inuit heritage and language, while igloo represents a more specific, often romanticized view of Inuit innovation in popular imagination. Both terms reflect the ingenuity and adaptability of the Inuit people in creating effective shelters suited to their environment.

Comparison Chart


Any house or shelter in Inuit language
Dome-shaped snow house


Various materials (sod, wood, stone)
Compacted snow

Cultural Context

Broad term in Inuit culture
Specific architectural term in English


Refers to different types of shelters
Refers specifically to snow houses


Common in Inuit language
Iconic in Western culture

Iglu and Igloo Definitions


Any dwelling providing shelter in harsh climates.
Their iglu was well insulated to keep out the cold winds.


A dome-shaped snow house built by Inuit people.
The igloo provided warmth and protection during the Arctic winter.


Traditional housing used by Inuit communities.
The ancient iglu designs varied based on available materials.


Iconic symbol of Arctic architecture.
The igloo has fascinated explorers and anthropologists alike.


A general term for a house or shelter in the Inuit language.
The family lived in an iglu made of stone during the summer.


A structure known for its insulating properties.
The igloo's design kept the interior temperature surprisingly comfortable.


A home in the context of Inuit culture.
Building an iglu required knowledge passed down through generations.


A traditional winter shelter made from blocks of snow.
They constructed an igloo to survive the harsh conditions.


Shelter made from locally sourced materials.
In some regions, iglus were constructed from driftwood and animal skins.


Snow-built dwelling for survival in freezing temperatures.
The family gathered inside the igloo for warmth.


Archaic form of igloo


A house made of blocks of snow, such as those built by the Inuit.


An Eskimo hut; usually built of blocks (of sod or snow) in the shape of a dome


A dome-shaped structure or building.


A dome-shaped Inuit shelter, constructed of blocks cut from snow.


(zoology) A cavity, or excavation, made in the snow by a seal, over its breathing hole in the sea ice.


(military) A reinforced bunker for the storage of nuclear weapons.


(logistics) A kind of airfreight cargo container.


An Eskimo snow house.


A cavity, or excavation, made in the snow by a seal, over its breathing hole in the ice.


An Eskimo hut; usually built of blocks (of sod or snow) in the shape of a dome


What is an igloo?

An igloo is a dome-shaped snow house built by the Inuit, specifically designed for winter conditions.

What is an iglu?

Iglu is an Inuit word for any house or shelter, not limited to snow houses.

Are iglus only made of snow?

No, iglus can be made from various materials like sod, wood, and stone, depending on the region.

Can iglu refer to modern houses?

Yes, iglu can refer to any type of dwelling in the Inuit language, including modern houses.

Why are igloos built in a dome shape?

The dome shape helps distribute weight evenly and provides excellent insulation.

How does an iglu differ from an igloo?

Iglu is a general term for any shelter in Inuit culture, while igloo specifically refers to a snow house.

Are igloos still used today?

While traditional igloos are less common, they are sometimes used for cultural and educational purposes.

Can iglu be used in a figurative sense?

In Inuit culture, iglu can metaphorically represent the concept of home or shelter.

What materials are used to build an igloo?

Igloos are built using compacted blocks of snow.

Is iglu used outside of Inuit culture?

The term iglu is primarily used within Inuit culture and language.

Is iglu used in scientific contexts?

Iglu is typically used in cultural and linguistic contexts rather than scientific ones.

Can iglu refer to temporary shelters?

Yes, iglu can refer to both temporary and permanent shelters in Inuit culture.

What makes an igloo warm inside?

The compacted snow blocks trap air, creating insulation that keeps the interior warm.

What is the lifespan of an igloo?

An igloo can last several months if the weather conditions remain cold.

How do you pronounce iglu?

Iglu is pronounced as "ig-loo," similar to igloo but with a focus on the original Inuit pronunciation.

What is the cultural significance of iglu?

Iglu holds cultural significance as a symbol of home and shelter within Inuit communities.

Are there variations in igloo designs?

Yes, igloo designs can vary based on regional practices and environmental needs.

What tools are used to build an igloo?

Tools like knives and saws made from bone or metal are used to cut snow blocks for an igloo.

How does the construction of an iglu vary?

The construction of an iglu varies based on available materials and environmental conditions.

Do igloos have windows?

Traditional igloos may have small holes for ventilation but not conventional windows.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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