Better the weather you know: proverbs and quotations about the weather
22 March is World Water Day, and 23 March is World Meteorological Day, so what better time to celebrate our fascination with foreboding forecasts? Threatening thunderstorms and disconcerting downpours crop up time and time again in popular proverbs and quotations, and not least because of the abundance of words that rhyme with ‘rain’. Perhaps the most obvious reason for this wealth of wordy weather witticisms is the comfortable familiarity of ‘the weather’ when in need of a topic. As Samuel Johnson, the English lexicographer, once wrote: ‘When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.’
We’ve gathered together a range of weather-related sayings to mark these two special days, and perhaps provide a line or two when you’re next stuck for conversation.
Saint Swithun’s day, if thou be fair, for forty days it will remain; Saint Swithun’s day, if thou bring rain, for forty days it will remain
St. Swithun (or Swithin) was a bishop of Winchester. He died in 862 and his feast day is 15 July.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains on
An early-17th century English proverb, quoted by the war poet Edward Thomas in his poem ‘Rain’.
North wind blow, we shall have snow
Traditional weather rhyme deriving from a nursery rhyme of the early-19th century.
A warm January, a cold May
A Welsh proverb suggesting that mild weather in January means there will be cold weather in May.
When the wind is in the east, ‘tis good for neither man nor beast
An English proverb, early-17th century, referring to the infamous bitterness of the east wind..
What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.
Letter, Jane Austen (1775-1817), English novelist.
The English winter – ending in July, / To recommence in August.
Don Juan, Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet.
The opinions and other information contained in the Oxford Dictionaries Online blog posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of OUP.
- Competitions and quizzes (35)
- Dictionaries and lexicography (161)
- English in use (378)
- Grammar and writing help (66)
- Interactive features (48)
- OED Appeals (4)
- Other languages (66)
- Varieties of English (40)
- Word origins (203)
- Word trends and new words (123)