Balmy vs. barmy

Balmy is an adjective describing something, especially weather, that is mild and pleasant. It relates to balm in the sense a healing ointment. Something that is balmy is thought to be healing. The word also bears the sense weak-minded or idiotic, but in this sense it usually gives way to barmy, the original form. Barmy is fairly common in the U.K. and elsewhere outside North America, but it’s rare in the U.S. and Canada. Balmy everywhere is usually used in the mild and pleasant sense.

Examples

Though highs will soar into the balmy 80s on Friday afternoon (along with a slight reduction in frizz-inducing humidity of recent days), north winds kick in on Friday evening. [Wall Street Journal]

The jury is still out on whether this is going to prove a great leap of logical thinking or barmy reverse engineering. [Irish Times]

If you thought balmier spring weather had taken hold, think again. Quebec, Ontario and northern New Brunswick are being battered by snow, ice and intense winds. [CBC]

We are mugs to put up with these people who inflict us with their barmy interpretation of the law. [Telegraph]

Mathews and Jennings fought last year on a balmy summer’s night for the British Masters lightweight title. [Liverpool Echo]

No amount of scientific garb can disguise how much of a throwback to barmier times today’s obsession with “extreme weather” really is. [The Australian]

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