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Learning idioms at a conversational speed is difficult. In this video I’ll break down how to use the most common idioms related to the weather. Americans use these idioms constantly in conversation!
Hey guys! Today, I’m sitting down with my husband David and we’re going to go over some weather idioms. So today, you can expect to learn some brand new idioms that you’ve never heard before.
David, let’s start with the idiom ‘out of the blue’.
Now, a little pronunciation thing here, out-uh, you can hear, I’m taking out of, I’m putting those together into one word, out-uh, out of the blue, with a flap t.
When something happens out of the blue, that’s relating to weather in that it comes from the idea of a clear blue sky, nothing in it, and then out of the blue, a storm comes in or something like that rather quickly. So what it means is something unexpected.
Right, and the thing that I thought of as an example was that a former colleague of mine reached out to me recently. I had actually been thinking about her,` she was on my mind, and she reached out out of the clear blue. It had been more than a year since I had heard from her and she reached out out of the clear blue.
‘Reach out’ what’s that mean? Was she like “ah! I’m reaching out!”
She sent an email. She made contact.
To reach out means to initiate contact with someone.
So you heard from her out of the blue,
The calm before the storm. So sometimes when a storm is coming in, there’s this sort of eerie quiet before it really hits. It’s actually a really neat moment, I think, when the skies are dark, before like hail starts pounding down from the sky or something.
So ‘the calm before the storm’ means idiomatically, a period of relative calm right before something major and chaotic is happening.
Do you have an example of this?
I think that right now you and I are in a calm before the storm.
Yeah. We are.
The second baby is on the way. It’s going to be supposed to be in six weeks, but it could be anytime.
And so our lives feel somewhat calm right now, but we know that a storm is coming.
Mm-hmm. It’s going to get really crazy. Another thing I thought about is we got married on a Sunday. And remember how the venue was closed on Saturday? So we did all of this work on Friday and then Saturday was just this empty calm day before the big event on Sunday and that was sort of the calm before the storm.
The calm before the chaos hosting and having a party of 120 people, feeding them all, and all that.
Another great idiom ‘head in the clouds’. This is somebody who’s not focused on what’s happening, who’s sort of thinking about other things, not really paying attention. Do you have an example of this?
Yeah, my example is that again, this is going back to birth but this is our son Stoney’s birth. I was working in a nine-to-five job and it was really hard to concentrate. I was so excited for Stoney to get here, and then he was ten days late. And those ten days my head, my head was in the clouds. I was excited, and I was having a really hard time concentrating on anything at work.
Mmm-hmm. Now you said a nine-to-five. And that means a job that follows what in the us would be a regular work schedule, Monday through Friday, 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning until 5:00 or so in the afternoon. More and more people don’t have regular nine-to-five schedules. They have schedules where they work evenings or weekends or whatever, but a nine-to-five is that typical traditional work schedule in the us.
I thought of one other example for ‘head in the clouds’, when I was in college, I was singing in a choir. And I remember the director after concert yelling at this kid because during the concert, the kid was like so focused on the architecture of the building we were singing in, he was just taking it all in, looking around, and the director was you know trying to lead the choir in this cohesive sound, and he totally, this guy in general, has his heads his head in the clouds. So this is another perfect example. He’s supposed to be singing in this group of people and he’s just sort of “oh, wow! Look at that!”
So that’s another great example of someone who has their head in the clouds.
In a fog, also called ‘in a haze’, so when it’s foggy or hazy, it’s hard to see. And when you’re in a fog or in haze, it’s sort of hard to think, hard to concentrate. And an example of this, the most in a fog I’ve ever been in my life was after Stoney was born, when I was having very interrupted sleep. I was getting up three or four times a night, was having problems falling back asleep, I definitely had sleep deprivation. And my god, I just remember thinking, my mind doesn’t work that well anymore.
It was hard to see a task through to the end. I was worried about making mistakes at work, at Rachel’s English, this kind of thing. I just knew that my brain was not working at its normal sharpness. I was definitely in a fog.
To break the ice. Now ice relates to weather, in the video last week, I talked about black ice, where ice might cover a street and it’s hard to see. Black ice is hard to see, you might slip and fall. So if you break the ice, this is, this means to start conversation with somebody you haven’t met before. It’s like that first social interaction with somebody is called breaking the ice. It’s the first time you’re getting starting to get to know somebody. And I was thinking about how in a class, or your first year at college, the first week, your orientation, might be made up of some icebreakers, there’s a noun where there exercises where you’re interacting with other people in a structured way, in order to get to know them a little bit. Or at a conference maybe in a small meeting. You might have some icebreakers, little exercises. Or you could just say, you know, I want to go meet that cute guy at the bar, I’m going to go break the ice, I’m going to go say something, and it could be more casual like that too.
Tip of the iceberg, now notice when I say this, I’m reducing the word ‘of’ I’m just saying tip-uh. Tip of iceberg. You might not do that you can just use a reduction, tip of, tip of, tip of. But I think in a phrase like this, it’s pretty common to drop that v sound. Tip of the iceberg. This means what you’re seeing is just the very beginning of a much bigger problem. I think it’s usually negative, right? Like a problem, an issue. Do you have an example of this?
So back in 2008 when the us economy was about to really go down, one of the most famous wall street firms Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and it was kind of shocking to a lot of people. And then it turned out that that was just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more of our financial institutions needed to be bailed out, and it led to a huge recession and a major, major downturn in the American economy. So it was the tip of the iceberg.
Yeah, when that happened, it was just the tip, there was much more to come. You could also say the financial crisis snowballed from there.
Right? It’s something that starts and then picks up speed, gets much bigger, becomes a much bigger problem. The idea here is a snowball rolling down a hill of snow. As you roll a snowball in the snow, it collects other snow and gets much bigger. So that’s the idea of something snowballing. Things get added to it, it picks up, it becomes bigger just like tip of the iceberg, you know there’s more there underneath the surface.
So the next one is once in a blue moon, and a blue moon is the second full moon that happens within the same calendar month, which makes it pretty rare.
Like how rare are we talking? Do you have any idea?
I don’t know, I have to look it up.
But it doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen very often?
And an example of this that I was thinking about, since I stopped working at my job, people have asked me, do you miss it? Do you miss your work? And I’ll say, every once in a blue moon, I’ll miss it. And I’ll talk about missing my colleagues and things like that, but how I really, you know don’t miss it very often. I’m glad that I made the change that I made. So once in a blue moon, I might miss it but not very often.
Yeah, so that means hardly ever. It happens, but hardly ever.
Raining cats and dogs. I read something about where this comes from and one theory is that when it would rain so hard, small animals like cats and dogs would go up into thatched roofs.
Or was it that they would leave thatched roofs? Why would they be in thatched roofs in the beginning? Anyway, I heard that it’s related to that. Thatched roofs and small animals. Which when it’s raining really, really hard, that’s when we might use the idiom ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’.
Speaking of rain, there’s another idiom ‘to rain on your parade’ and this means to diminish something that someone’s excited about. Someone could be really energized about something, happy about it, you happen to know some negative information. You might say, ‘i don’t want to rain on your parade but…’
So here’s an example, a former intern of mine was now applying for jobs and told me about something that they were excited about. This position looked great, and I said I don’t want to rain on your parade but that agency, the place where that job is, is really they’re kind of not doing very well. It’s a place where there’s a lot of turnover and that’s actually not a great spot for you.
So they have been really excited about it and I had to rain on their parade.
Yeah, you had to give him the whole truth.
The phrase ‘to steal someone’s thunder’, this is like when someone has something big to share, big news, but someone shares something even bigger before you get to do yours, or they actually tell your story when you wanted to share it.
That’s when someone steals your thunder.
And an example of this is my older sister, when my mom was pregnant with me, my older sister was so excited that she ran to the neighbor’s house and actually stole my mom’s thunder. She gave the news that my mom was pregnant, and my mom had wanted to be the one to tell her friend that.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase ‘under the weather’. This just means you’re not feeling well, you’re kind of sick. Maybe you’re not all the way sick, although I think it can mean that, but I think we use it often for when we’re not totally sick but we don’t feel great. We’re just a little under the weather.
And Stoney, our son, just had an example of this where he had been really sick for one day, but then the whole rest of that week he just wasn’t himself he was under the weather.
He wasn’t acutely sick but he just wasn’t feeling well.
The phrase ‘to know which way the wind blows’, this is talking about future events. You either do or do not know which way the wind is going to blow. Do you have an example?
I do, yeah. A former colleague called me recently and wanted to do some networking, wanted to know about if I had heard of any positions that were open and I was a little bit surprised because they have a job and, and the last that I had heard they were pretty happy. But they said actually some people got laid off recently and I kind of know which way the wind is blowing. Meaning that they thought that they might get laid off too or that the agency itself was maybe going to collapse. And so they were getting ahead of that and doing some networking and trying to find a new position.
Mm-hmm. So she felt like she knew what direction this thing was going to end up in.
And finally, the last idiom for today is to ‘take the wind out of your sails’. This is when you have momentum going for something or excitement, and then something happens that just kills that momentum or that excitement. And for me, recently, I’m training for a half marathon, and I had been doing pretty well. I was running six miles pretty consistently and then I played in a soccer game, a team that I used to play on needed me to sub in for them, and I got hurt pretty bad, and I really lost momentum on my training. It just, it really took the wind out of my sails.
That’s too bad and you’ve had a hard time kind of getting back into it now since then.
Okay guys, thanks so much for joining us here while we discuss weather idioms. If you missed the weather vocabulary video from last week, be sure to check it out. I’ll link it here and in the description below. David, thanks for joining me.
That’s it guys and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.