Weather Expressions and Idioms

Everybody talks about the weather … Weather has had some influence on our language. Check out the listing of expressions and idioms below that have been influenced by the weather. Please add additional ones in the comments. We need your help to make the listing more complete!

For your information, we are using the following criteria for collecting this information.  We want the following:

  • An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.
  • An expression is a word or phrase, especially an idiomatic one, used to convey an idea.
  • All of the items in this section are idioms and expressions.

We will develop another section for weather proverbs and folklore, so don’t include those here.

  • A proverb is a simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim.
  • Folklore (or lore) consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, stories, tall tales, and customs
  • An example of a proverb/folklore is Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. We will not include proverbs and folklore here.



  • Chase rainbows – To pursue something that is impossible/impractical.
  • Cloud nine – If you are on cloud nine, you are extremely happy. (‘cloud seven’ is a less common alternative).
  • Cloud of suspicion – If a cloud of suspicion hangs over an individual, it means that they are not believed or are distrusted.
  • Cloud/storm on the horizon – Approaching problem.
  • End of the rainbow – Where the treasure or end of a quest lies.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining – Every difficult situation has a more comforting and hopeful aspect.
  • Greased lightning – If something or someone moves like greased lightning, they move very fast.
  • Head is in the clouds – If a person has their head in the clouds, they have unrealistic, impractical ideas.
  • Under a cloud – If someone is suspected of having done something wrong, they are under a cloud.


  • Brass monkey weather (UK) – Extremely cold weather.
  • Cold day in hell (when something happens) – Something that will never happen or that is very unlikely.
  • Cold enough to freeze the tail/nose/balls off a brass monkey – Extremely cold.
  • Cold light of day – A time and place from which problems can be objectively considered.
  • Colder than a witch’s elbow/tit – Extremely cold.
  • Come in from the cold (bring in from the cold) – To be welcome in or become part of a group, particularly if you are new or alone.
  • Freezing your butt off – Extremely cold.
  • Give someone the cold shoulder – To ignore someone or minimally interact with them, usually as a passive aggressive form of punishment or disapproval.
  • Jack Frost – If everything has frozen in winter, then Jack Frost has visited.
  • Leave out in the cold – To refuse or neglect to include someone in an activity, group, or conversation.


  • I don’t have the foggiest (idea) – “I don’t have a clue” / “I have no idea”
  • In a fog – If you’re in a fog, you are confused, dazed or unaware.


  • Break the ice – To do or say something to relieve tension.
  • Cut no ice (with someone) –  To have no influence on someone; to fail to convince someone.
  • On thin ice – To be on the verge of an unfavorable situation; to be on probation; to push the limits.
  • Put on ice – Delay or postpone something.
  • Tip of the iceberg – the small visible part of a much larger and hidden problem.


  • Ask for the moon – Make outlandish requests.
  • Once in a blue moon – Very rarely.
  • Reach for the moon – To try and achieve your ambitions.


  • As right as rain – To feel completely well again.
  • Into each life some rain must fall – Everyone must experience difficulties or ill fortune at one time or another.
  • It never rains but it pours – Misfortunes seem to either all come in quick succession or all come at once.
  • Lovely/Nice weather for ducks – Rainy or damp weather,
  • Not know enough to come in out of the rain – Someone who doesn’t know enough to come in out of the rain is particularly stupid.
  • Rain on your parade– If someone rains on your parade, they ruin your pleasure or your plans.
  • Raining cats and dogs – Raining heavily.
  • Raining stair-rods (UK) – Raining heavily.
  • Right as rain – Fit and healthy
  • Saving for a rainy day– If you save something, especially money, for a rainy day, you save it for some possible problem or trouble in the future.
  • Take a raincheck – If you take a rain check, you decline an offer now, suggesting you will accept it later. (‘Raincheck’ is also used.)
  • Wait for a raindrop in the drought – To wait/hope for something which has little chance of happening.
  • When it rains, it pours – When things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time.


  • Indian Summer – A period of unexpected hot and dry weather, often in the Autumn months.
  • Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (UK) – Autumn
  • Silly season (UK) – The silly season is midsummer when Parliament is closed and nothing much is happening that is newsworthy, which reduces the press to reporting trivial and stupid stories.
  • Spring Cleaning – Thorough house cleaning.

Sky/AirSky / Air

  • Blue skies – An overly enthusiastic outlook or disposition.
  • Bolt from the blue – An unexpected or sudden occurrence.
  • Clear the air – To speak honestly and openly in order to resolve a difference or ease bad feelings in a personal relationship.
  • Heavens open – When the heavens open, it suddenly starts to rain heavily.


  • As pure as the driven snow – Entirely pure or uncorrupted.
  • As white as snow – Pure white.
  • Snowed under – Overloaded with work.


  • Any port in a storm – This means that in an emergency any solution will do, even one that would normally be unacceptable.
  • Calm/lull/quiet before the storm – A period of unusual stability before difficult times.
  • Down a storm (UK) – To be positively received by an audience.
  • Face like thunder – Looking very angry or upset.
  • In the eye of the storm – Deeply involved in or at the center of a difficult situation which affects a lot of people.
  • Lightning fast – Very fast.
  • Perfect Storm – A particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors.
  • Quiet/Lull before the Storm – When you know that something is about to go horribly wrong, but hasn’t just yet, then you are in the quiet before the storm.
  • Ride out the storm – To continue to exist and not be harmed during a very difficult period.
  • Steal someone’s thunder – If someone steals your thunder, they take the credit and praise for something you did.
  • Storm is brewing – There is going to be trouble, probably with outbursts of anger or emotion.
  • Storm/tempest in a teacup/teapot – Exaggerated outrage or enthusiasm regarding a seemingly trivial matter/ a small occurrence exaggerated out of proportion.
  • Stormy relationship/argument – A passionate, emotional, unpredictable relationship/argument
  • 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.
  • Weather a storm – If you weather a storm, you get through a crisis or hard times.


  • A place in the sun – A position of advantage.
  • Beat the living daylights out of someone – To beat someone severely.
  • Brighten up – To become more cheerful.
  • Brighten up the day – If something brightens up your day, something happens that makes you feel positive and happy all day long.
  • In broad daylight – During the day with many witnesses.
  • In the dark – Ignorant, unaware.
  • Made in the shade – One has an easy time in life or in a given situation. Finding things working to one’s benefit.
  • Make hay when the sun shines – To make the most of an opportunity while it lasts.
  • Ray of hope – A small chance that something positive will happen. The negative form, not a ray of hope, is often used
  • 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)
  • Take a shine to – Develop a liking for.
  • Take umbrage – To be displeased or offended by the actions of others (from the Latin umbra meaning shade or shadow).
  • Think the sun shines out (of) somebody’s arse/backside (UK) – To love or admire someone so much that you do not think they have any faults.
  • Twilight zone – The twilight zone is an ambiguous area between two different states, ways of life, conditions, etc.
  • Where the sun don’t shine – A dark place, usually inferred to be the anus.


  • Go with the tide – To go along with the effect of outside forces.
  • Stem the tide – Trying to stop something unpleasant from getting worse.
  • Tide has turned – When a trend has changed from one thing to another.
  • Swim against the tide – To do the opposite of what most other people are doing.


  • Come hell or high water – In any circumstances, come what may
  • Come rain or shine – Whatever the weather/situation.
  • Dry Spell – a period in which someone is having less success than usual
  • Fair weather friend – A friend who cannot be relied on in difficult times.
  • Hit rough weather – If you hit rough weather, you experience difficulties or problems.
  • Keep a weather eye open/out – To watch someone or something carefully
  • Under the weather – Unwell or in low spirits.


  • Be a breeze – Very easy to do.
  • Billy Wind (UK) – If the wind is so strong it is howling, one might say, “Wow, can you hear Billy Wind out there?” like Jack Frost.
  • Blow hot and cold – To be indecisive, change one’s mind.
  • Doldrums – If a person is in the doldrums, they are depressed. If a project or something similar is in the doldrums, it isn’t making any progress.
  • Get wind of something – To hear a rumor about something.
  • Know which way the wind blows – This means that you should know how things are developing and be prepared for the future.
  • Long-winded – Talking or writing which has too many words and is tediously long.
  • Reap the whirlwind – To have serious problems because you did something stupid in the past.
  • Sail close to the wind – Take risks to do something, going close to the limit of what is allowed or acceptable.
  • Seven/three/four sheets to the wind – If someone is seven sheets to the wind, they are very drunk.
  • Shoot the breeze – Chat in a relaxed way.
  • Spitting/pissing into the wind – Engaging in a pointless activity; something futile.
  • Take (knock) the wind out of someone’s sails – To discourage someone greatly; to cause someone to lose hope or the will to continue; to thwart someone.
  • There’s something in the wind – If there’s something in the wind, it means one suspects that something important or significant is about to happen.
  • Throw caution to the wind – When people throw caution to the wind, they take a great risk.
  • Twisting in the wind – If you are twisting in the wind, you are without help or support – you are on your own.
  • Went through like a hurricane/tornado/whirlwind – To leave confusion, disarray, or damage in one’s path.
  • Windbag – A windbag is someone who talks a lot but says nothing of any importance.

Windfall – A large amount of money which is won or unexpectedly received.

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