Sleigh Vs. Sled


Just hear those sleigh bells jingling
Ring ting tingling too
Come on, it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

Sleigh Ride,” composed by Leroy Anderson in 1948 with lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950, is one of the most iconic songs heard during the holiday season.

‘Tis the season for classroom lessons and discussions about holiday traditions and winter activities! In many countries in the Northern Hemisphere, common winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. Many lessons (such as our NEW Christmas – Beginner lesson) mention sleds or sleighs, but not often both together. English language learners might not realize that there is a difference in meaning. They also might be confused by related terms such as toboggan. Let’s take a look at these common winter words!


Meaning: A sleigh is a big, box-like, open-air vehicle on two ski-like runners that can transport people over snow and ice. The main difference between a sleigh and a sled is that a sleigh is almost always pulled by a horse or a team of horses (or reindeer, if you’re Santa Claus).

Part of Speech:

  • Noun: sleigh, sleighs
  • Verb: sleigh, sleighed, sleighing (Note: The verb sleigh is not common and best avoided.)


Meaning: A sled is a small, open-air vehicle that is flat-bottomed or on two ski-like runners. One or two people can ride a sled down a snowy hill. Sleds can also be pulled by a person or a team of dogs.

Part of Speech:

  • Noun: sled, sleds, sledder
  • Verb: sled, sledded, sledding


Meaning: A toboggan is a type of sled with a flat bottom and a curved front edge. One or two people can ride a toboggan down a snowy hill.

Part of Speech:

  • Noun: toboggan, toboggans, tobogganer, tobogannist
  • Verb: toboggan, tobogganed, tobogganing

In North America, the words sleigh, sled, and toboggan are all quite common. What’s the most common term where you live? Share it in the comments section below.


Get into the holiday spirit and find lots of related vocabulary in our winter holiday lessons!

Happy Holidays!


Leave a Comment ↓

  1. Marilena PIva says:

    Dec 18, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the explanation

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