Under the Weather – Idiom, Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Under the weather is an idiom that means feeling slightly unwell or in low spirits. If you’ve ever woken up just not feeling yourself, a little off, maybe like you’ve been caught in a drizzle with no umbrella? That’s what being under the weather feels like!

Idioms are phrases where the words together have a different meaning than their individual definitions. They are important to effectively communicate in ways everyone can relate to. They’re metaphors we use to make bland statements more fun and interesting. But this is only the case when they’re used correctly.

So, take a moment to read about the true meaning and origin of the idiom under the weather and check out the sentence examples I included.

Under the Weather Meaning Explained

Under the Weather – Idiom Meaning and Origin 1

If someone is under the weather, they are in a state of feeling a bit gloomy or unwell. It’s the first few days of catching a cold before the real virus kicks in and takes you out. Or when your kids bring home germs from school at the start of the year, and you can feel your immune system slowing down, day by day.

Under the Weather Origin and Etymology

Under the Weather Ngram

The most popular theory about the origin of the idiom “under the weather” is from the maritime world. When a sailor became ill or seasick, often because of violent weather conditions, that sailor was sent below decks to the most stable part of the ship, which was under the weather rail. The phrase “under the weather rail” was shortened to the idiom “under the weather.”

Synonyms for Under the Weather

There are simpler ways to convey that you’re not feeling well. Try one of these alternatives to under the weather.

  • Feeling off
  • Not feeling yourself
  • Out of sorts
  • A bit down
  • Off-color

Using Under the Weather in a Sentence

Under the Weather – Idiom Meaning and Origin 2

These sentence examples show all the ways this phrase can be used in conversations.

  • Mark’s under the weather today, so he won’t be attending the meeting. Can you take notes?
  • I think I ate something bad; I’ve been feeling under the weather since eating that leftover omelet this morning.
  • She’s just a bit under the weather; there is nothing for the daycare to be overly concerned about.
  • After his vacation, Adam returned looking refreshed; he’d been under the weather for weeks before that.
  • If you’re feeling under the weather, it’s best to get some rest so you’ll be at your full potential.
  • I hate to cancel our plans, but I’m just too under the weather to go out tonight.
  • “You look a little under the weather,” she commented, noting his pale complexion.
  • Being constantly under the weather made Ted reevaluate his lifestyle and habits.
  • I’ll take a rain check on our lunch; I’ve been under the weather all morning.
  • The whole family was under the weather after that rainy camping trip to the lake.

Take Care!

The idiom “under the weather” serves as a gentle reminder that sometimes we’re not sick, but we don’t feel like ourselves. Whether it’s a fleeting cold or just a blue mood, this phrase is perfect to describe it! Check out all of our other idiomatic guides just like this one and bulk up your vocabulary.