The term under the weather is an English phrase that means someone is feeling sick or sad.
Example: I got hired as a car mechanic and I start first thing tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’ve also come down with an illness. I don’t want to miss my first day of work because I’m feeling under the weather, but I also don’t want to show up and possibly spread what I have to others. What should I do?
Synonyms: in a bad way, not feeling so hot, sick as a dog
When someone is feeling sick or sad, they might describe themselves as being “under the weather.” Where did this common phrase come from? Its origin may have to do with sailing. Commenting on the origins of this phrase, the website The Phrase Finder mentions that in older times, when a sailor was feeling seasick, he would be sent below deck so he could get away from being under the harsh weather.
According to another source, a book called Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions by Bill Beavis (Author) and Michael Howorth (Author), this phrase originally meant to feel seasick. It also mentions:
“The term is correctly ‘under the weather bow’ which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.”
So that’s the origin story for this idiom. Now let’s talk about its age. The earliest I could find it in print is from the newspaper Jeffersonville Daily Evening News, 1835:
“‘I own Jessica is somewhat under the weather to-day, figuratively and literally,’ said the gentleman, amusedly, giving a glance at the lady over in the corner.”
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Here are examples of how you can use this phrase in a sentence:
- “She began to feel under the weather after her trip to Florida.”
- “Although it’s a beautiful day for a walk, I’m under the weather today, so I’ve decided to stay indoors instead.”
- There are several house tasks I wanted to get through this morning, but I’m not feeling so hot right now, so they will have to wait until later.
- He had to cancel his dentist appointment because he was lying in bed all day as sick as a dog.
If you are feeling under the weather, here are some synonyms for this phrase that you can use:
- Feeling sick
- Sick as a dog
- Stuck in bed
- Green around the gills
- Running a temperature
This phrase is used to convey that someone feels unwell or sick. If you want to describe similar feelings, you can use the phrase “under the weather,” or synonyms for it like “feeling unwell,” “battling a bug,” or “in a funk.”
Note: Know Your Phrase has a large list of popular sayings that you can check out. There are hundreds to explore and learn about, including what they mean and where they came from.