How Certain Words in the English Language Originated From Terms to Describe the Weather

Weather Words

In an atmospheric episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss , linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill explain how certain words in the English language originated from terms used to describe different kinds of weather.

Lavish is a word to describe an extravagant outpouring of things. It comes from an Old French word, lavasse, related to the word for to wash, that referred to a downpour of rain. Nuance is a French word that traces back to the word for cloud and for the subtle differences of shading and color in clouds. Now it refers to subtle differences of shading in other qualities.