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What Does “Under the Weather” Mean?

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Do you feel bad when you don’t understand English idioms? Don’t worry, we can help you feel better by explaining the meaning of “under the weather” and giving you some examples.

White text over green background reads "under the weather."
“Under the weather” is a common English idiom.
Under the Weather: Quick Summary

Under the weather is an English idiom that describes someone as “feeling ill or unwell.”

  • Sorry, I can’t come to work today because I’m feeling under the weather.

What Does “Under the Weather” Mean?

Under the weather is an English idiom that means “feeling sick or unwell.” Remember, an idiom is a phrase or expression with a figurative meaning that differs from the literal definition of the words used.

The idiom under the weather is often used to indicate that someone is ill, without going into too much detail.

Jared won’t be coming in today because he’s feeling under the weather.

Under the weather is generally accepted in all contexts. For example, you can use the idiom whether you’re talking to a friend or notifying your boss about your absence from work.

However, you should be aware that this phrase is only to be used to refer to minor and temporary illnesses, such as a common cold or headache. If someone has a severe medical condition, it would not be appropriate to use this phrase to describe this.

Graphic shows a sick emoji with text over it that reads "under the weather."
If you’re feeling “under the weather,” that means you don’t feel good.

“Under the Weather” Origin

No one knows for certain where this expression originated from, but there’s a popular theory that’s tied to nautical roots. Supposedly, way back then, when a sailor was feeling bad, he would retreat below the deck—away from the weather above—which could be described as being under the weather. Another theory claims that the idiom came to be via the old idea that the weather has a strong influence on one’s health.

“Under the Weather” Examples

Here are a few example sentences that contain the idiom under the weather.

Anne has been feeling under the weather with a cold all week, so she’s been taking it easy.
The twins were both feeling under the weather today, so they stayed home from school.
I was a bit under the weather yesterday, but I’m feeling much better today.
After studying all night, Louise woke up feeling under the weather.
Mark feels under the weather, so I’m going to pick up some cold medicine for him.

“Under the Weather” Synonyms

If you want to expand your vocabulary, here are a few similar words and phrases you can use in place of under the weather.

1. Unwell

I feel under the weather today.
I feel unwell today.

2. Feeling off

Johan is feeling under the weather today.
Johan is feeling off today.

3. Out of sorts

I’m a bit under the weather today.
I’m a bit out of sorts today.

4. Feeling a bit poorly

Claire says she’s feeling under the weather.
Claire says she’s feeling a bit poorly.

Don’t Let Bad Writing Cause You To Feel Under the Weather

Now that you know what under the weather means, you’ll be able to understand and use this English idiom confidently in your conversations. Remember, idioms are a fun and quirky part of language, so don’t be afraid to embrace them!

If your writing skills have you feeling under the weather, LanguageTool can help you feel better! This multilingual writing assistant not only corrects various types of errors, but also suggests stylistic improvements and offers rephrased sentences to enhance the flow and readability of your text.

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