Weather Vocabulary

This page shows words and expressions that we use when talking about the weather in English.

Each weather expression is shown with a definition followed by an example sentence in italics. n. = noun, adj. = adjective

airconditioner, airconditioning (n.)
an appliance that cools down the air in a home or building
The airconditioner keeps the office nice and comfortable even when it's very hot outside.

avalanche (n.)
a dangerous slide of snow down a mountain
The skiers were warned about a possible avalanche.

below freezing
temperature less than 0°C or 32°F
It's supposed to go below freezing before the weekend.

blizzard (n.)
a storm with lots of snow and wind
The airplane couldn't take-off because of the blizzard.

boiling hot
common expression for describing a very hot day
It was boiling hot, so we all jumped into the lake.

breeze (n.)
light wind
Don't bother with a hat. There's always a breeze near the ocean.

call for (v.)
predict or forecast the probable weather for a time in the future (N.Amer.)

Celsius, centigrade
measurement of temperature (0 degrees is freezing and 100 degrees is boiling)
In the summer, the average temperature here is 20 degrees Celsius (20°C).

chilly (adj.)
It's a bit chilly today, so I think you should wear a coat.

clear (adj.)
when there are no clouds in the sky
On a clear night you can see a lot of stars.

cloud (n.)
water in the sky that appears as a white or grey mass
I feel quite cold every time the sun goes behind a cloud.

cloudy (adj.)
when much of the sky is covered with clouds
It may be cloudy in the early morning, but the sun always comes out by afternoon.

cold spell
a period of colder-than-average weather
They're forecasting a cold spell, so we put off our camping trip.

cool (adj.)
temperature between warm and cold
The days were boiling hot, but the nights were cool and comfortable for sleeping.

cyclone - see hurricane

degrees (n.)
measurement for temperature
I don't feel the heat until it's about forty degrees Celsius (40°C) outside.

drizzle (verb)
rain slightly
I think I'll take the dog for a walk. It's only drizzling now.

drought (n.)
a long period with no rainfall
Forest fires are a serious danger during a drought.

measurement of temperature (32°F is freezing and 212°F is boiling)
It was 100 degrees Fahrenheit (100°F) when we got to San Francisco.

flood (n.)
overflow of rain water
The flood was so bad, our basement was full of water.

Snow flurriesflurries (n.)
very light snowfall
There are a few flurries but the snow isn't sticking to the roads.

fog (n.)
thick water vapor that blocks one's vision
We couldn't see the bridge because there was too much fog.

foggy (adj.)
full of fog, with lots of fog
They say it's going to be foggy tomorrow.

forecast (v.): past tense is forecast OR forecasted
predict the likely weather for the future
Usually they forecast the weather accurately but sometimes they get it wrong.

forecast (n.)
a prediction of the weather for the future
According to the five-day forecast, it's going to rain on our wedding day.

forecaster (n.)
a person who forecasts
Why are the weather forecasters on this channel so boring?

freezing cold
common expression used to describe a very cold day
It was a freezing cold day for the Santa Claus parade.

frost (n.)
ice crystals on a frozen surface
Some flowers are so strong they can withstand frost.

frostbite (n.)
a bad skin condition caused by over-exposure to the cold
I lost my hat while I was skiing, and I ended up with frostbite on my ears.

hail (n.)
small pieces of ice that fall during a storm
There was so much hail that some of the trailer homes were destroyed.

heat stroke (n.)
a flu-like condition you can get after spending too long in the sun
Bring lots of water and wear a hat to avoid heat stroke in this weather.

heatwave (n.)
extremely hot weather that is much hotter than average and usually lasts a short time
During the heatwave we cooled our beds down with ice packs.

humid (adj.)
with a high amount of water vapour or moisture in the air
The weather here is so humid I have to take four or five showers a day.

humidity (n.)
moisture in the air
It feels a lot hotter than it actually is because of the humidity.

hurricane (n.)
a tropical storm with extremely strong winds and heavy rain (NB: hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are exactly the same - but they tend to be called hurricanes in the Americas, typhoons in eastern Asia and cyclones in India)
Half of the buildings on the island were flattened by the hurricane.

ice (n.)
frozen water; solid water (below 0°C)
The car's windscreen was covered with ice so we had to scrape it off first.

icy (adj.)
slippery because of ice
The roads are icy so take special care driving down any hills.

lightning (n.)
a huge natural electric flash between a cloud and the earth or between two clouds
The outdoor pool always closes when the lifeguards think lightning is coming.

mild (adj.)
temperature that is warmer than average (in a cold season)
It's quite mild out so I didn't bother with a hat or gloves.

meteorologist (n.)
a person who studies the weather
The meteorologist predicted that the cold spell would be over by now.

minus, negative (adj.)
indicates that a temperature is below zero
It was minus twenty degrees (-20°) at the top of the ski slope.

overcast (adj.)
when clouds cover the sky and no sun is visible
The sky is overcast this morning, but the sun is supposed to come out by late afternoon.

partly cloudy
term often used in a weather forecast to indicate that the skies are sunny and cloudy at the same time
Tomorrow's forecast is partly cloudy with clear skies by nightfall.

precipitation (n.)
rain or snow that falls on an area
There is very little precipitation in the desert.

puddle (n.)
a small pool of rainwater on the ground
Children love to splash in puddles when they are wearing rubber boots.

rain (n.)
water that falls to earth
My hair is all wet and messy from the rain.

rain (v.)
rain falls (always used with it)
It is raining so you'd better take an umbrella.
We had a terrible holiday because it rained every day.

rainy (adj.)
describing a time or place with lots of rain
It was a rainy afternoon.

raindrop (n.)
a single drop of rain
I love catching raindrops on my tongue.

rainbow (n.)
a curved band of colours sometimes seen in the sky after rain
According to legend you can find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

raining cats and dogs (idiom)
raining heavily
They cancelled the football game because it was raining cats and dogs.

scorcher (n.)
a period of very hot weather; a very hot day
It was a scorcher, so the whole family slept in the cool basement.

scorching (adj.)
very hot
I got burned by the scorching July sun.

season (n.)
time of year characterized by particular weather: winter, spring, summer, autumn (or fall)
My favorite season is fall, because I love to watch the leaves changing colours.

shower (n.)
quick, light fall of rain
They've been calling for showers all week, but so far it's been dry.

sleet (n.)
rain that freezes as it falls
All-weather-tires are best if you have to drive in sleet.

slush (n.)
snow on the ground that has been rained on
The snow turned to slush as soon as it started to rain.

smog (n.)
heavy, dark cloud cover caused by pollution
You really notice the smog downtown in this type of humidity.

snow (n.)
soft, white, frozen water that falls from the sky and covers the earth in a white layer
There's already lots of snow in the mountains, so the ski season should be great this year.

snow (v.)
snow falls (always used with it)
It's been snowing all day.

snowstorm (n.)
a heavy fall of snow with high winds
All of the schools were closed because of the snowstorm.

snowy (adj.)
describing a time or place with lots of snow
It was a snowy December.

shine (v.)
give out a bright light
The sun was shining through the window.

Sunsun (n.)
the gassy star that warms the earth
The sun went behind a cloud.

sunshine (n.)
direct light from the sun
We hope to have sunshine at the beach.

sunny (adj.)
bright with light from the sun
It's usually sunny in Thailand.

sunburn (n.)
painful red skin caused by being in the sun too long
The bald man got sunburn on his head.

sunglasses, shades (n.)
dark glasses that protect your eyes from the sun
I forgot my shades and I was driving right into the sun.

suntan, tanned (adj.)
brown or golden skin caused by long periods of exposure to the sun
I got a suntan on the cruise, but it has already faded away.

sunscreen, suntan lotion (n.)
cream that protects your skin from sun damage
Don't forget to reapply your sunscreen when you get out of the lake.

temperature (n.)
a measure of how warm or cold the air is
Can you check the temperature before we get dressed for our walk?

Thermometerthermometer (n.)
instrument for measuring the temperature of the air
When I checked the temperature this morning, the thermometer said it was already thirty degrees Celsius.

Thunderstormthunder, thunderstorm (n.)
the crashing of clouds (often followed by a strike of lightning and heavy rain)
Let's close all of the windows. It looks like a thunderstorm is coming.

Tornadotornado (n.)
violently spinning windstorm
The tornado picked up everything in its path, including animals and cars.

typhoon - see hurricane

Umbrellaumbrella (n.)
held over one's head and body for protection from the rain
I always keep an umbrella in my car in case of rain.

UV (ultra-violet) rays (n.)
harmful rays from the sun
Ultra-violet rays can damage your eyes if you don't wear sunglasses.

wind (n.)
movement of air outside
The wind was so strong that the trees were swaying violently.

windy (adj.)
describing a time or place with lots of wind
It's too windy to play golf today.

windchill (n.)
an effect that makes the air feel colder than the real temperature
It's only minus two, but with the windchill factor it feels like minus fifteen.