Word Story: Weather

The trouble with English is that there are so many words that sound exactly alike but have no connection with each other whatsoever. A case in point is "weather" which often gets muddled up with whether. In fact the only way to differentiate between them when speaking is to aspirate the first aitch with emphasis. But whether it's whether or "weather", the topic of this little story is the one to do with the climate — "weather".

If you live in the UK and your English vocabulary is limited, you can always fall back on expressions like these: "Lovely, isn't it?" — "Couldn't be better, could it?" — "What a pleasant change!" — "Makes a difference, doesn't it?" Yes, they all refer to the weather. Apart from polite conversation the word "weather" also appears in several expressions. If you're feeling under the weather, you're not feeling very well. If you "make heavy weather of something", you're making things more difficult than they need to be. Someone gives you a job to do which would normally take about half an hour and if you are still doing it 3 hours later, then that's "making heavy weather of it". If a business is having financial problems but somehow manages to survive and be back in credit, it is said to "weather the storm". If you "keep a weather eye open", you are being very careful to see there's no trouble. The burglar or thief "keeps a weather eye open" making sure there are no police around. You may think you have a good friend but you only know how loyal they are when you want their help in a crisis. If they turn away when you need them most, we call them "fair weather friends". I don't think I've got anything more to say really. Oh, yes I've just looked out of the window and it's turned out nice again — the "weather" I mean.
Author: Alan Townend