Idiom of the week: Be/ Feel under the weather.

Definition: Be/ Feel ill or unwell.

Example: I’m feeling a bit under the weather – I think I’m getting a cold.



It is believed that expression has nautical or seafaring origins. According to the website The Phrase Finder, when a sailor was feeling seasick in the old days, «he was sent down below to help his recovery, under the deck and away from the weather.»

Moreover, in the book “Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions”, by Bill Beavis and Michael Howorth, the following phrase is mentioned: «To feel ill. Originally it meant to feel seasick or to be adversely affected by bad weather.» And it adds: «The term is correctly ‘under the weather bow’ which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.»

The earliest recorded found of this expression dates back to 1835 from The Jeffersonville Daily Evening News:

“I own Jessica is somewhat under the weather to-day, figuratively and literally,’ said the gentleman, amusedly, giving a glance at the lady over in the corner.”