Weather-related Phrases

When it comes to writing, English speakers have created a lot of sayings related to the weather. Some of the sayings we use are directly about the weather while others merely use the weather to express another idea. For example, when someone says that another person stole their thunder, it means the other party purloined an idea or creation for his or her own benefit.

Stealing Someone’s Thunder

The origin of the phrase stole my thunder reverts back to 1704. At the time, John Dennis thought up a way for producing the sound of thunder for his play at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. No one has elaborated on the exact technique used for producing the noise.

However, after Dennis’s play, Appius and Virginia, failed and closed, the same method was used in the play, Macbeth. Naturally, Dennis was not pleased that someone had “stole his thunder.” In fact, he reportedly made a comment that went something like this – “How dare they! They will not feature my play but, instead, steal my thunder!”

A Bolt Out of the Blue
A Bolt Out of the Blue

A Bolt Out of the Blue

Another weather-type phrase is associated with lightning, and reads as follows: “It came like a bolt from the blue.” As you might surmise, this means that something was a complete and utter surprise.

The first author who used the term in a printed publication was Thomas Carlyle, who penned the phrase in his work, The French Revolution (1837). The word blue, or blew, at the time, was another reference for sky. This type of reference is also made in A Platonicall Song of the Soul by Henry More. The 1642 passage read: “Ne any footsteps in the empty blew.”

He Does Not Know Which Way the Wind Blows

In addition, you might have heard some people say that another person does not “know which way the wind blows.” This phrase basically means that a person is not knowledgeable or competent.

Farmers and sailors used similar phrasing in olden times. During the period, the windward side was the spot that was breezy, or from where the wind did blow. So, farmers and sailors needed to know the windward  direction when doing work. Soon, the phrase, “knowing which way the wind blows,” was attributed to a person’s skillset and understanding.

How the wind blows is also connected to current or shifting trends. So, the wind factors into people’s writing when it comes to referencing skills or current and popular sentiments or ideas.

Weather phrases also extend to the following expressions –

  • Pure as the driven snow
  • Tempest in a teapot
  • It never rains but it pours

So, can you think of some weather-associated phrases? Are they connected directly to the weather or are they proverb or idiom? 

Image Credit:

Flickr – Creative Commons

Barb McG

Reference:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/steal-ones-thunder.html

 

 

 

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