7 Extreme Weather Idioms

Around the world people experience many examples of extreme weather, such as tornadoes, blizzards, thunderstorms and heatwaves. These phenomena can be unexpected and unpredictable, so here are seven extreme weather idioms to help you weather even the wildest storm!

 1.  Storm in a teacup

There are many variations of this idiom, such as ‘tempest in a teapot’ (often used in American English) and the suspected original, ‘tempest in a ladle’, coined by the Roman statesman Cicero. All of these refer to a small problem or event which has been blown out of proportion.

2.  Raining cats and dogs

This quintessentially British phrase has been around since the 17th century and its origin remains a mystery, although there are several plausible theories. We use this idiom to describe the weather when it’s raining unusually hard.

3.  To be snowed under

‘To be snowed under’ is to have so much to do that you’re overwhelmed: I’d love to meet you for lunch but I’m completely snowed under.

4.  Lightning never strikes the same place twice

People use this idiom as assurance that once someone has endured unfortunate circumstances it isn’t going to happen again. Interestingly, there are actually several recorded instances of lightning striking the same place on multiple occasions. For example, the Empire State Building gets struck by lightning about 23 times a year.

5.  The calm before the storm

This idiom refers to the unnatural stillness experienced before a storm breaks, and can be used to describe a period of calm before a crisis.

6.  Face like thunder

To have a ‘face like thunder’ means to look extremely angry: He came into the office with a face like thunder, and we could all guess why.

7.  To catch lightning in a bottle

This phrase stems from the kite experiment proposed by US president Benjamin Franklin to harness electricity from lightning and store it in a jar. It was later popularised in the context of baseball and can now be used to describe someone’s success in attempting a challenging feat.
So how many other weather-related phrases can you think of?

This post was previously published on 30th August 2019

Other Articles

Spanish word of the week: cometa

In another in our series of blog posts on Spanish nouns whose gender varies according to meaning we look at cometa. You can listen to the pronunciation of cometa in the audio clip below: You’re most likely to see un cometa (masculine) at night, since it… Read More

‘100 Words for Rain’ by Alex Johnson

Rain, rain, go away! Come again another day! British weather, eh! Who would have it? March this year, though rainy and dismal, was not in fact the rainiest March on record. That happened in 1947. But now that spring is springing upon us fast, it’s been a delight to delve,… Read More

9 weird and wonderful collective nouns

A pride of lions. A gaggle of geese. A murder of crows. The English language is full of peculiarities, but collective nouns are among the most remarkable. But what is a collective noun? Collective nouns are used to refer to a group of people or things, with some of the… Read More