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Inclement vs. inclimate

The weather-related adjective meaning stormy or tempestuous is inclement. It is the appropriate word in the phrase inclement weather, which means stormy weather. The word is often misspelled inclimate (which would also be pronounced a little differently), but this illogical form is not yet common enough to have received the recognition of dictionaries (at least the dozen or so we checked), and it is not found in edited writing.

The prefix in- is one of several prefixes we attach to adjectives to make their opposites. For example, decent becomes indecent, articulate becomes inarticulate, and credible becomes incredible. But climate is not an adjective and doesn’t have an opposite, so inclimate would have no logical meaning.

The opposite of inclement is the much rarer clement, meaning mild or gentle, which comes from a Latin word with the same meaning. Considered etymologically, then, inclement could mean not mild or not gentle. Incidentally, clement is also the root of clemency, meaning mildness or leniency.

Examples

In these sentences, the questionable inclimate would bear replacement with the standard and long-established inclement:


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With inclimate weather and Spring Break altering the schedules, many teams, including Tecumseh, had less than five days of practice. [Adrian Daily Telegram]

Wind and other inclimate weather conditions will also make the gym a better venue for the event. [Marion County Record]

[A]t times they received a bad wrap due to bizarrely inclimate weather and an unfortunate piece of judgment regarding a ticketing snafu that impacted a few hundred fans. [Forbes]

(That disastrous Forbes sentence also uses bad wrap in place of bad rap.)

And these writers use inclement well:

She climbed Horseshoe Ridge in distinctly inclement conditions. [Telegraph]

We’ll be back to dreary rain in no time, so don’t pack away your inclement weather gear just yet. [Washington Post]

Anticipating inclement weather, GOP officials in Maine’s Washington County postponed their Saturday caucus for a week. [Wall Street Journal]

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Comments

  1. willtravel4life says:

    Thank you.  I adore the english language and am often amazed to see how poorly I use it!  Cheers

  2. Ever Learning… Thanks

  3. Awesome explanation, thank you!

  4. Bust3rCh3rry says:

    Sweet, tender baby Jesus! I already feel far more intelligent! Thanks!

  5. Prism2Spectrum says:

    Clear, definitive explanation. Earned a Bookmark for this site. Thanks!

  6. Eric Cromwell says:

    but inclimate means weather appropriate to that climate, exclimate is snow in Georgia. :P

  7. Unirregardlessly, I feel that the climate can be inclimatable.

  8. Brian Kuhn says:

    This is what’s irritating about the English language. There are too many similar words (there/their/they’re; where/were/we’re; your/you’re, etc.) for people to screw up and confuse – not to mention homographs (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings,) homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings,) homophones (a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings, but have different spellings,) and heteronyms (a type of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings, but sound different.)

    Even though I’m fluent in English, I still get tripped up in the rules of grammar, syntax, and punctuation long after High School at age 33 y.o. I also have NO flippin’ idea how to NOT end all of my sentences with prepositions; I even think preposition(s) is a preposition, lol. I also received (for years) conflicting information on whether or not it is acceptable to begin sentences with the word “and.” Growing up, my teachers always said that was a literary sin! Then, the more I started reading books written by professional and established authors, the more I saw plenty of sentences beginning with the word and, so I have no idea who is right, because I’ve heard of what’s called literary license (or something like that,) meaning basically that an established, professional author can do whatever they want when writing and can get away with starting sentences with and, or ending sentences with prepositions. (If anyone can answer the “and” question for me, I’d appreciate it!)

  9. Duende Brooks says:

    I remember being taught this at 16 in school. However, the English will never be understood and it is always changing and accruing new words.

  10. how is clement (mild) not the root of clemency (mildness)? fool

  11. Sooner or later they’ll add “inclimate” to the dictionary anyway. Boo.

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