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What Does "A Storm Is Brewing" Mean? When Can We Use It?

What Does "A Storm Is Brewing" Mean? When Can We Use It?

Every day we deal with things that could affect us in a bad way. When dealing with stressful situations, you might hear people tell you that "a storm is brewing," but you might not understand what they mean by that. Read on to learn more about the meaning of this expression and how to use it.

"A storm is brewing" means that something bad is about to happen. It can be the weather getting turbulent, but it can also refer to an upsetting situation you sense will happen soon.

This expression can be used in different ways depending on the context. To use it properly, it's important to know about its origin and the meaning of the words that build the idiom. Also, reading examples of the phrase will help you understand how to use it in different contexts.

Origin Of The Phrase

The origin of this phrase is not certain. But it might be linked to the practice of cloud watching, which consists of watching the sky searching for signs of stormy weather. Even though the weather forecast is much more reliable nowadays, this classic method is still very accurate. There are different kinds of clouds, and depending on their shape and color, people can predict if a storm is coming.

Looking up to the sky to make weather predictions is common among sailors, pilots, and farmers because of how it affects them directly in their daily activities. This way, the phrase "a storm is brewing" could have originated as a way of warning each other about the weather that's approaching.


What Is A Storm?

A storm is very violent weather, it involves a heavy fall of rain or snow, and it is a powerful disturbance of the atmosphere. There are different types of storms, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Thunderstorms are created when water vapor rises to the sky, where it cools and condenses to form clouds. Little by little, the cooled water particles grow bigger, and when they are heavy enough, they fall from the sky, creating rain.


"Storm" is a very ancient word of Germanic origin from the word "Sturmaz." It has always referred to a violent disturbance in the atmosphere. Its origin is related to the word "Stir," which means to mix something in a circular movement.

Synonyms And Antonyms

There are many synonyms for the word "Storm" that can be used in various situations, such as: "Tempest," i.e., "a raging tempest." "The tempest destroyed the house."

  • "Hurricane," i.e., "the tropical storm will become a Hurricane." "August is hurricane season."
  •  "Tornado," i.e., "a tornado warning was issued for this area." "The tornado damaged the whole town."
  •  "Trouble," i.e., "I had trouble listening to him" "don't talk to him. He's looking for trouble."
  •  "Commotion," i.e., "His death caused a great commotion." "The president was calm amid the commotion."
  • On the other hand, the opposite of a Storm is a quiet environment. There are many antonyms such as:
  • "Calm," i.e., "he is a very calmed person," "she has a very calmed voice."
  • "Stillness," i.e., "there was a sudden stillness in the air," "the loud music broke the stillness."
  • "Peace," i.e., "after ten years of war peace was negotiated" "even though they don't think alike, they live in peace."


Quotes Examples

  • "The sky was full of dark clouds before the storm."
  • "That storm is monstrous!"
  • "There was a heavy storm yesterday!"
  • "The storm was beginning to lose some of its fury."
  • "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)

  • "A dust storm was probably brewing."

What Does Brewing Mean?

The word "brewing" comes from the verb "brew," which means "to promote the growth or development" of something. It also refers to the method of preparing beverages that need time for fermentation and boiling, such as beer or tea. Because it refers to something that is grown and developed slowly, it is also used to talk about problematic situations that emerge this way.


The word "Brew" comes from Old English breowan, from Proto-Germanic *breuwan "to brew" (source also of Old Norse brugga, Old Frisian briuwa, and Middle Dutch brouwen). All of them refer to the process of producing a beverage by fermentation.

Synonyms and antonyms

The main synonym for this word is:

  • "Ferment" i.e., "The wine fermented turning juice into alcohol" "the authorities are fermenting this chaos."

And it has antonyms such as:

  • "Separate," i.e., "Their relationship was brewing, but they separated" "it can be hard to separate work and home."
  • "End," i.e., "A fight was brewing but suddenly the discussion ended" "the concert ended at midnight."


How Do People Use The Phrase?

The most common use of the idiom "A storm is brewing" refers to situations that are just about to get problematic. It means that even though at that moment everything seems calm, things will get "stormy" soon. People might be feeling angry, have a big argument, or get into a fight. On the other hand, this expression can be used to warn someone that turbulent weather involving big rains and thunder is about to come.

Example Sentences And Quotes

  • "Johnny seems to be angry at him; I feel a storm is brewing. "
  • "He looks angry. A storm is brewing."
  • "I might look fine, but a storm is brewing inside of me."
  • "Look at the sky! A storm is brewing."
  • "We must not set sail today! A storm is brewing."
  • "A storm is brewing in the west."
  • "He got late to work, and his boss got mad again; a storm is brewing."
  • "I was going to wash my clothes, but the sky is full of dark clouds; a storm is brewing."
  • "A storm is brewing in my head; I can't stop thinking about her."
  • "She might look calm on the outside, but after what she told me, I feel a storm is brewing inside of her"
  • "Nietzsche wrote of people "who, on the approach of severe pain, hear the very opposite call of command, and never appear more proud, more martial, or happier than when the storm is brewing."
  • "Sadly, this storm is brewing in many communities across America."
  • "On Tuesday 24 August, a storm was brewing off the North Wales coast."
  • "Mom and dad were yelling this morning; a storm is brewing."
  • "Hundreds of people have gone to the manifestations; a storm is brewing."
  • "The pilot saw a big cluster of dark clouds and announced to the passengers to expect turbulence; a storm was brewing."
  • "The first time you came to this country, the political situation was really bad, a storm was brewing, but now it's much better. You should come back."

Famous Uses Of The Phrase

The phrase "A storm is brewing" has been used in various formats, ranging from Youtube videos, books, and other media. Some of the most important news platforms and magazines in the United States have published articles evidencing the use of the phrase. Among these are widely known names such as Forbes, The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and can even be found in English translations of the books by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.


In conclusion, "a storm is brewing" is an idiom that means that things will get turbulent shortly. It can refer to the weather getting stormy or to someone getting angry. But in both cases, it refers to a situation that builds up slowly and gets stronger little by little.

It's interesting to see how the phrase originated from the observation of clouds in the sky but was converted into an idiom that can also express how a person is feeling. It is an idiomatic expression that can be used in everyday life, especially informal speech.