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1. an occasion when a lot of rain falls very quickly, often with very strong winds or thunder and lightning

2. a situation in which many people are upset or excited

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

Storm is a very ancient word of Germanic origin and is related to similar words in German and Dutch (‘Sturm’ and ‘storm’). Both the literal and figurative meanings of the word have been used in English since its earliest times.


The British and Irish meteorological offices agreed in 2015 to give names to severe winter storms in order to raise public awareness and avoid the confusion that can arise when the same storm is called by different names. Since that time there have been over two dozen named storms, with names alternating between male and female first names, and with male and female names coming first in alternate years. Because severe storms are relatively infrequent in this part of the world and the naming system starts again from ‘A’ every winter, the names are never going to get beyond the middle of the alphabet at most; indeed, the first season when storms were named, 2015-2016, which was also the season that saw the most storms so far, only got as far as Katie. This is slightly troubling to those with tidy minds, because all those unused names are going to waste, meaning we will never get to see Storms Holly or Hector, let alone Violet or Victor. Whether this will give rise to a storm of protest remains to be seen.


“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
(Willa Cather)

“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.”
(William Cowper)

Related words

cyclone, hurricane, typhoon

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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