What does the idiom "Calm before the storm" mean?

The phrase Calm before the storm is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of Calm before the storm.

Meaning of "Calm before the storm"


The idiom “calm before the storm” is used to describe a seemingly calm period of time that precedes a period of great trouble, change, or upheaval. It is used to refer to a situation that appears peaceful and uneventful but which is about to be followed by something much more dramatic, like a storm. In some cases, it can also be used to describe a situation where underlying tensions or conflicts are brewing beneath the surface of a seemingly peaceful situation.


The phrase “calm before the storm” has roots in meteorology, where it is used to describe the temporary decrease in wind and rainfall that is often observed before the arrival of a tornado, hurricane, or other severe weather event. The phrase was first used in its current form in 1651 by poet Thomas Fuller, who wrote “There’s a calm before the storm.”

In the 18th century, it began to be used more metaphorically to describe non-weather related situations. By the early 19th century, it had taken on the meaning we are familiar with today, and has been used by authors such as William Thackeray and Elizabeth Gaskell.


The phrase “calm before the storm” is most commonly used in informal situations such as everyday conversation or within literature. It has become a popular saying, and is often used to foreshadow a coming event. It can be used to describe a variety of situations, from times of great upheaval such as war or natural disasters, to more personal events such as the end of a relationship or the loss of a job.

The phrase can also be used to describe a situation where gathering tensions or conflicts are simmering just beneath the surface, and are likely to erupt in the near future. It can be used to refer to a situation in which everything appears to be calm and normal, while the person speaking is aware of an impending disaster.

Example Sentences

  • We’ve been in a calm before the storm the past few days; I have a feeling something big is going to happen soon.
  • The quiet before the storm was almost

The meanings of the words in the "Calm before the storm" idiom

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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