The calm before the storm refers to a peaceful period of time that comes just before a busier and more difficult one.
Example: Logan agreed to babysit his two nephews. Currently, his house is nice and quiet, but he knows this will change once his nephews arrive. After all, they are loud and full of energy. So while Logan is enjoying the peace for now, he knows it’s the calm before the storm.
The Origin Of ‘Calm Before The Storm’
This phrase likely originates from a weather phenomenon. That is, sometimes there is a calm, or serene period that comes shortly before a storm hits an area. Perhaps you have experienced something like this before. There are dark clouds filling the sky, yet things appear tranquil—no wind is blowing, no rain is falling; the air is still and quiet. It looks as though even the birds packed their bags and left.
However, this is the ‘calm before the storm,’ because shortly after, the wind picks up and rain starts to fall. Yes, the storm arrives! This sort of weather occurrence is thus applied figuratively to other situations that are like that. More specifically, situations that have a calm period that leads into a louder, more chaotic one (like in the example above with Logan).
Anyway, 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’ve come down with something. I don’t feel too sick right now, but I am worried this might be the calm before the storm and my symptoms will worsen later.
- This restaurant is quiet during breakfast and lunch hours, but that is the lull before the storm because once dinner time rolls around, this place fills up and things get very busy.
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