Under The Weather


What is the meaning of the phrase “under the weather”? It means that someone is feeling sick. It can also mean that someone is feeling sad.

Example: I got hired as a car mechanic and I start first thing tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’ve come down with a bad illness and now I’m unsure of what to do. Should I call my boss and tell him I can’t come in because I’m feeling under the weather, or do I go to work and try to tough it out?

Tip: You can replace the idiom in blue with one of the synonyms below and the meaning remains the same!

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. Sick as a dog
2. In a bad way
3. Not feeling so hot
Feeling under the weather, a man holding an umbrella in rain.
Sometimes, when we’re feeling sick or sad, we might say we’re “under the weather.”

Origin Of “Under The Weather”

It’s common for someone to say they are feeling “under the weather,” but where did this phrase come from? It’s possible that it has a nautical or seafaring origin. Commenting on the origins of this expression, a website called The Phrase Finder mentions that in the older days, when a sailor was feeling seasick, in order to help him recover, he was sent below deck to get out from 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 Micahel Howorth (Author), it says that this phrase originally meant to feel seasick, or to be affected by bad weather (while out at sea, I assume). It also goes on to say:

“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 where this idiom is believed to originate from. As for the its earliest appearance in print, the earliest recording I could find is from the newspaper Jeffersonville Daily Evening News, 1835. There’s a part from it that reads:

“‘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.”

Example Sentence For “Under The Weather”

Short Examples:

  • Elise was on vacation in Florida. After she got back home, it only took a few days until she started feeling under the weather. (In other words, she was feeling ill.)
  • My friends wanted me to go play with them at the park. However, I was feeling under the weather that day, so I stayed inside.

Note: Know Your Phrase has a big list of popular sayings, so check that out using the menu at the top to find hundreds of them.

On an unrelated note, I’d like to talk briefly about the origin of some phrases. Sometimes, these are unclear. If that is the case, what you’ll see listed under the “origin” section are either explanations that try to figure out how a phrase came to be. Or, if not that, there will usually be a quote of phrase. These are typically the earliest known appearances of them in print. However, it’s possible that older quotes exist and I missed them.

Moreover, these quotes that contain the expression are there to show you how old it is. For example, if a book from the year 1500 gets quoted because it uses a certain expression, it does not mean it originated from this book. It simply means that the saying is at least that old.

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