Word of the Day


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1. a short period when it rains or snows

2. a large number of things moving through the air or falling together

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The word shower comes from the Old English ‘sceor’ or ‘scyur’ and is of Germanic origin. The word had already been around for many centuries in a wide variety of spellings when Chaucer wrote of Aprill, with his shoures soote‘ in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.


April famously brings showers which are followed by flowers in May. Such showers are often referred to as scattered, although they can also be isolated or intermittent. Showers can also consist of things that are not made of water: of sparks, for example, or petals, or meteors; or of less agreeable things such as bullets, arrows or stones. Showers can also consist of non-literal things, such as praise or blessings. The most frequent meaning of shower is the piece of equipment used to wash yourself, the place where it is located, or the act of using it. Shower has further meanings. The meaning of a party held for a woman by her friends before she gets married or has a baby was originally used in American English, where it was first recorded at the end of the 19th century. ‘Bridal’ and ‘baby’ are two of shower‘s most frequent collocates for this reason. Both the word and the events are increasingly found on this side of the pond. Another meaning of shower is British only: you can refer informally to a group of people you do not like or respect as a shower.


“He didn’t administer a reign of terror, just the occasional light shower.”
(Terry Pratchett)

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
(Geoffrey Chaucer)

Related words

cloudburst, downpour, drizzle

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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