The calm before the storm refers to a peaceful period of time that comes just before a busier and more difficult one.
The Origin Of ‘Calm Before The Storm’
The phrase ‘calm before the storm’ likely originates from a weather phenomenon. That is, sometimes there is a serene period that comes shortly before a storm hits. You may have experienced this for yourself before. While outside, dark clouds fill the sky. Yet, things appear tranquil—no wind is blowing, no rain is falling; the air is still and quiet. It even looks as though the birds have packed up and left.
However, not long after, the wind suddenly picks up and heavy rainfall begins. Indeed, that peaceful time is over and now a hefty storm has arrived! This sort of occurrence in the weather is applied figuratively to other situations. More specifically, situations that have a calm period that leads into a louder, more chaotic period (like in the example above with Logan).
Okay, so how old is this expression? It was in use hundreds of years ago, so quite old I’d say. For example, this phrase makes an appearance in the play The Dumb Knight, written by Lewis Machin and Gervase Markham, around 1601:
Fast lock’d in her bed, with a close ward to devour thee my brave paraquito; but hush, no words, there is a calm before the tempest.”
Looking at the quote in the phrase, you might have noticed the word “tempest” is used instead of “storm.” Both words pretty much mean the same thing. Thus, this saying looks like it’s at least 410 years old.
- I’m ill, but I don’t feel too bad right now. Hopefully this is not the calm before the storm and my symptoms worsen later.
- I work as a chef and normally things are peaceful around here in the early parts of the day. However, this is only the lull before the storm, because once dinner time rolls around, this place fills up and things get very busy.