Sweltering, torrential and gusty: interesting words for talking about weather.

by Liz Walter

Paulien Tabak/EyeEm/Getty

Most students learn words for weather quite early in their studies. It’s easy to stick with well-known phrases such as sunny day or heavy rain, but there is a lot of more interesting vocabulary associated with the weather, as you would expect for one of the world’s favourite topics of conversation! In this post, I offer some suggestions for expanding your range of weather vocabulary.

Let’s start with temperature. Very hot weather can be described as scorching, sweltering or boiling. If it is the kind of heat that makes you feel as if you can’t breathe, it is stifling or oppressive. At the other end of the scale, we can describe very cold weather as freezing, bitter or even bone-chilling if we find it unpleasant. Wintry weather is also cold, but this is not necessarily a negative description – it can be used for a pleasant snowy or icy day. In between these two extremes, mild is a positive adjective for weather that is not particularly hot but not too cold either.

Some areas have weather that is changeable or unpredictable, meaning that it does not stay the same for long and you cannot guess what it will be like. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more extreme weather conditions in the world, with terrible storms, hurricanes and tornadoes (very strong winds). We describe bad storms as violent, fierce or powerful. When they cause a lot of damage, we can say they are devastating, and freak storms are ones which are unusual and unexpected in an area. As well as adjectives, verbs can also be used to add impact and interest to your writing. For example, we may say that a storm tears through a place, or that it is raging.

Some nice words to describe wind include gusty (when it starts and stops), biting (when it is very cold) and howling (when it makes a loud noise). Heavy rain is torrential, while very light, fine rain is misty and persistent rain goes on for a long time. We talk about very heavy rain lashing down or lashing against the window. Glorious sunshine is hot and pleasant, but sunshine that is too hot can be described as fierce or intense. We talk about the hot sun blazing or about sunshine streaming into a place. Hazy sunshine makes it difficult to see the view clearly.

I hope that this post has taught you some new and useful weather words.  Most of us have weather we love or weather we hate, but I like the remark made by Alfred Wainwright, a British writer of walking guides, who famously said, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.’

18 thoughts on “Sweltering, torrential and gusty: interesting words for talking about weather.

  1. Lee Wang sook

    Thank you for your post.
    It seems interesting to guess some personality traits as the way people talk about weather. My favorite phrases also are ‘roaring 40s’, ‘furious 50s’, ‘screaming 60s’ when nearing the south pole.

  2. Yousuf Ahmad

    Oh Well, I really did not ever meet such plenty of alternate words to describe weather forcast before this lesson I knew just 2-3 common words related to weather. Now, i got ideas from this lesson that how can we describe different weather situations of a place with different phrases. Thank You!!!

  3. Alexandre Coelho

    Mrs. Walter,
    Your post is useful, again. It has taught us new words.
    I always have learned with your other posts.
    Thanks a lot.

  4. Muhd shah

    Your idea about wether is useful and helpful to
    add to ourconveration.we can widen our knowledge .

  5. Your new words have indeed added a lot to my range of weather vocabulary, esp with regard to temperature. so thanks a lot Liz.

  6. Pingback: Describing landscapes, Weather, Personality – About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog | Qaawyrd-english

  7. Daniel

    The way some of us country folks describe heavy rain is- ” it’s done come a cydumas!” = si- do -mus. Meaning it’s flooding outside, better head for high ground. D.R. Covington, GA. GO DAWGS!

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