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50 Atmosphere and Weather Idioms and What They Mean: Part 1


One of the reasons English is so difficult to learn is because it is a language full of idioms. An idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning separate from the actual definitions of the words used. There are an estimated 25,000 idioms in the English language – let’s take a look at some of them that use the weather and environment as metaphors to describe something else.

  1. Cold light of Day – a time and place from which problems can be objectively considered
  2. Fair-weather friend – a friend who cannot be relied on in difficult times
  3. Under the weather – unwell or in low spirits
  4. To weather a storm – to successfully deal with a problem or to get through a difficult situation
  5. Any port in a storm – accepting any source of relief or escape in an unfavourable situation
  6. Calm/lull/quiet before the storm – a period of unusual stability before difficult times
  7. Storm in a teacup – exaggerated outrage or enthusiasm regarding a seemingly trivial matter/ a small occurrence exaggerated out of proportion
  8. To down a storm – to be positively received by an audience
  9. To take by storm – to capture a place or person using a combination of excessive force and the element of surprise/ to suddenly be extremely successful within a particular place or group of people
  10. Stormy relationship/argument – a passionate, emotional, unpredictable relationship/argument
  11. Face like thunder – looking very angry or upset
  12. Lightning fast – very fast
  13. Bolt from the blue – an unexpected or sudden occurrence
  14. To stem the tide – to prevent something bad from getting worse
  15. In the doldrums – low-spirited, depressed
  16. Tip of the iceberg – the small visible part of a much larger and hidden problem
  17. To break the ice – to do or say something to relieve tension
  18. Snowed under – overloaded with work
  19. In the dark – ignorant, unaware
  20. Once in a blue moon – very rarely
  21. To reach for the moon – to try and achieve your ambitions
  22. A place in the sun – a position of advantage
  23. Spring Cleaning – thorough house cleaning
  24. Indian Summer – a period of unexpected hot and dry weather, often in the Autumn months
  25. Ray of sunshine – a person who brings happiness into the lives of others (often used sarcastically to refer to someone with a gloomy outlook on life)

Don’t forget to look out for part two in next week’s blog post, where we’ll take a look at 25 more weather and atmosphere-related idioms.

If you enjoyed this article you might like to take a look at some of our previous blog posts on idioms:

Are there any idioms that you’d like to learn the meaning or origins of? Let us know.

Have a good week!

Avani Shah


28 Apr 2014
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