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What Does "Clouds On The Horizon" Mean? How To Use It

What Does "Clouds On The Horizon" Mean? How To Use It

You have probably run into someone who has used this phrase, and maybe you had a slight idea of what it meant, but are you really sure? Keep reading below to find out.

The idiomatic expression "clouds on the horizon" means there is a sign of trouble or difficulty to come, that something bad or troubling will happen in the future. It could refer to a problem that has already appeared. It is used to say that something that threatens your happiness is on the way.


What Is The Meaning Of This Idiomatic Expression?

In the first instance, it has nothing to do with the weather. There are some definitions found to give meaning to this idiom, such as:

  • An omen that something bad or problematic will happen in the near future.
  • A problem or difficulty that is predictable, or seems likely to arise in the future, is called a cloud on the horizon.

Example: "They are happily married, and for the moment, there appear to be no clouds on the horizon."

For example, "We have achieved our goals, but there are clouds on the horizon. The government is going to cancel our funding."

Imagine, you made plans for the weekend. You made sure you had everything you need to go to the beach, you expected a bright and sunny day. Then you check the weather forecast, and they say it will be cloudy and there is a possibility for a storm to hit your city. At present, your plans don't look as bright anymore. Your plans are now ruined – or at least you are expecting them to be – due to that storm that is coming. And that is the message rendered with this phrase.

Merriam-Webster's definition is the following: a problem that could appear in the future.

Example: The only cloud on the horizon for the team is the age of its key players.

Let's Break Down The Idiom

Part 1: Clouds

There are various definitions for this one, but let's just focus on the figurate meaning related to darks clouds, gloomy weather, rain on the horizon. This is the one that connects with the idioms meaning and use the best.

Part 2: On The Horizon

When we look for the meaning of this phrase, we find that it signifies "imminent or just becoming apparent." From this, we understand that it refers to something that is far – along the lines of the horizon – which, figuratively speaking, could be interpreted as "the future."


Synonyms, Antonyms, And Related Idiomatic Expressions

Synonyms For "Clouds On The Horizon"

  • There is an obstacle
  • Bad sign for the future
  • Sign of difficulty to come
  • There is impediment
  • Sign of trouble to come
  • Aggravation
  • There is a hurdle
  • Decadence
  • It could be a bad sign
  • Future problem
  • Deterioration
  • Decline
  • Degradation
  • Problem has appeared
  • Something bad will happen
  • Potential issue
  • Negative outlook
  • Something problematic will happen
  • There is a stumbling block
  • There is a barrier
  • Trouble is coming

Antonyms Or Opposite Idioms To "Clouds On The Horizon"

  • Distant
  • In the back of beyond
  • Not close
  • Isolated
  • Off the beaten track
  • Hardly likely
  • Faraway
  • Earlier times
  • Far removed
  • Not inevitable
  • Godforsaken
  • Outlying
  • Cut-off
  • Far off
  • Past
  • Obscure
  • Away

Similar Or Related Idioms To "Clouds On The Horizon"

  • Dark clouds on the right
  • Dark shadows on the horizon
  • Dark mounds on the horizon
  • Dark silhouettes on the horizon
  • Hope is on the horizon
  • Hills on the horizon
  • Under a cloud
  • Cloud of suspicion
  • On cloud nine
  • Every cloud has a silver lining
  • With one's head in the clouds
  • In the clouds


How To Use It?

We will use it whenever implying trouble that lies ahead. Here are some examples to use the phrase "clouds on the horizon" in sentences.

Example Sentences: "Clouds On The Horizon"

  1. Investors don't see many clouds on the horizon.
  2. There's also another cloud on the horizon.
  3. Look hard enough, and there are some clouds on the horizon.
  4. It's difficult to see clouds on the horizon in a sentence.
  5. Not that he sees any real clouds on the horizon.
  6. But there is an underlying cloud on the horizon.
  7. Not that there aren't clouds on the horizon.
  8. They see some small clouds on the horizon and a big black one called Wall Street.
  9. One cloud on the horizon is that the company's monopoly ends in the year 2000.
  10. I think he recognizes there are warning clouds on the horizon for our economy, and he took action.

Example Sentences: "Dark Cloud On The Horizon"

"Dark Clouds on the Horizon" is an alternative to the original phrase and has the same meaning. Here are some examples:

  1. Are there dark clouds on the horizon for SoundCloud?
  2. "We are still in communion, but there are dark, dark clouds on the horizon".
  3. But other producers in China see only dark clouds on the horizon.
  4. Dark clouds on the horizon: his passion begins to show.
  5. But many corporate executives, seeing a lot of dark clouds on the horizon, are in wait-and-see mode.
  6. But there could be a few dark clouds on the horizon.
  7. In the words of Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, there is a "slight recovery blowing in a spring wind" with "dark clouds on the horizon," The New York Times reports.
  8. "It's a ray of hope on the inflationary front, but dark clouds on the horizon for consumers," the chief economist at Merk Mutual Funds said.

Other Uses

The Phrase "Clouds On The Horizon" Used In Songs

The way Joe Bonamassa & Walter Trout used the idiom's metaphor in their song "Cloud on the horizon" exemplifies the meaning of this phrase.

There're clouds on the horizon,

And lightning in the sky

I see clouds on the horizon

And lightning in the sky yeah, yeah

I can see a storm approaching

With a teardrop in my eyes

The Phrase "Clouds On The Horizon" Used In Literature

In the book "Storm Clouds on the Horizon: A Comprehensive View of Earth's Last Days," Dr. Ken Duggan uses this expression to talk in regards to "The future of all mankind and the planet he inhabits seems to be on a collision course for disaster". Interesting, huh?

A large percentage of books include this idiomatic expression, either as part of the title or part of the book – or essay – itself. Let's see some cases where the phrase is used as a title (with some modifications to it):

  • White Clouds on the Horizon by Deborah Tadema. Overview: Winda escapes slavery only to face Pakwis, the Ojibwa chief, again when she needs his help. She fears that he will want his slave back, and she will lose the man she has fallen in love with. But without his help, they could be attacked by the Americans who are receiving shipments of a newer and more powerful rifle than the Brown Bess that the people in Upper Canada are using.
  • Dark Clouds on the Horizon by P. Frost. Overview: When your life is turned upside down by following a path you knew was the wrong thing to do in the first place, you have no option but to push it to one side and try to get on your life.
  • Storm Clouds on the Horizon, Bible prophecy, and the current middle east crisis by Charles H Dyer. Overview: Why is Israel constantly in the news? What does the Bible say in regards to Israel's past and future?
  • Storm Clouds Over the Horizon by Alan Clarke. Overview: Jack Baker, in his late twenties, is a self-employed painter and decorator who also does occasional small plumbing jobs. Abandoned by his mother at birth, Jack was brought up by foster parents.
  • Clouds on The Horizon by Becky Dornhecker. From "The Growing up Carolina Series". Overview: "Clouds on the Horizon" continues the story of Annie, her friend Katy Rose, David, Michael, and a host of new characters as they navigate the turbulent 60's. A world away, newlyweds Herb and Maggie begin a new adventure together in Africa.
  • Clouds on the Horizon: An Essay on the Various Forms of Error by Robert Needham Cust.
  • Storm Clouds on the Horizon, A House Divided by Kenneth J. Briden. Overview: Texas in 1860 was home for some 600,000 adventuresome souls; not counting, of course, the first Americans who had called it home since long before anyone could remember. That number was up from the 130,000 estimated population in 1845 when Henry Briden first came to the New World.
  • Storm Clouds on the Horizon by Luther Brines. Overview: This book is the author's interpretation of the book of Revelation in the Bible.


Taking everything into account, the phrase "clouds in the horizon" can be applied to a large percentage of different cases, situations, and contexts.

Remember that you can call it a cloud on the horizon when you can see a problem in the near future. Whether you refer to a problematic event that is to come or desire to use a more optimistic approach to it, these are idiomatic expressions that always come in handy when expressing ideas with figurative speech.

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