Word of the Day


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1. the type of weather that a country or region has

2. an area that has a particular type of weather

3. the general situation or attitudes that people have at a particular time

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The word climate was borrowed from French and Latin. It originally referred to a region of the earth and only later came to be used to refer to the weather conditions in a particular region. Climate was first used in English at the end of the 14th century. The figurative use dates from the middle of the 17th century.


The word climate was originally used to refer to an area of the earth between two latitudes, and later on to any region of the earth. It was only in the 16th century that it came to be used in its predominant current meaning of the weather conditions that prevail in a particular country or region. Climate forms part of many compounds, chiefly climate change. The extended meaning tends to collocate with negative terms such as ‘fear’, ‘suspicion’, ‘intimidation’, ‘intolerance’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘insecurity’ and ‘mistrust’, generally in the structure ‘climate of …’. The most significant positive collocations are ‘respect’ and ‘trust’. This means that climate has a generally negative semantic prosody in this meaning.


“She has made me in love with a cold climate, and frost and snow, with a northern moonlight.”
(Robert Southey, on Mary Wollstonecraft’s letters from Sweden and Norway)

Related words

microclimate, weather, zone

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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