#284: How to Talk About the Temperature in English | Descriptive Adjectives

Aug 9, 2023 | Advanced Vocabulary

 If I asked you to describe the weather – or more precisely – to describe the temperature where you live right now, what would you say?

You may immediately think of words such as

  • Hot
  • Warm
  • Cool
  • Cold

And while those words are accurate, they are limiting. 

 

The word hot could mean that you feel warm walking outside wearing a t-shirt and shorts or it could mean it’s SO hot that it’s unsafe to be outside for more than a few minutes.

Or, for example, on a recent trip to Washington DC, it was so hot and humid that it felt like I was in a steam bath or steam sauna.

 

In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn multiple ways to describe temperature in English. 

This includes creative language and, sometimes, subtle distinctions among words that could describe cool, cold, warm, or hot temperatures.

And, along the way, I’ve got some pop quizzes for you. 🙌

WATCH THE LESSON

How to Talk About the Temperature in English | Descriptive Adjectives

Category #1: Cold

Frigid

  • Def: intensely cold
  • Ex. “The ocean waters are frigid; I’m sure it’ll cause hypothermia.

Freezing

  • Def: very cold; at or below the temperature at which water solidifies into ice
  • Ex. “It’s freezing cold outside! Don’t forget to take your scarf and gloves.

Bone-chilling

  • Def: very cold, as if it’s penetrating into the depths of your body
  • Ex. “A bone-chilling wind burst into the room when I opened the windows.”

Biting

  • Def: extremely cold to the point of causing physical pain or sharp pricks on the skin
  • Ex. “The biting wind blew in my face as I walked home.”

Foul

  • Def: unpleasant, windy, rainy, and/or stormy
  • Ex. “The weather is absolutely foul today. I wouldn’t go out if I were you.

 

👉 Pop Quiz:
Imagine you get caught in a snowstorm, with strong winds, while being poorly dressed. Which adjective would you use to complete the following sentence?

It’s __________ outside and the ______ winds make me wish I had worn something warmer.”

Category #2: Cool

Crisp

  • Def: pleasant because it is cold and dry
  • Ex. “It’s such a lovely, crisp autumn day.”

Misty

  • Def: cool with small drops of water in the air that makes it difficult to see
  • Ex. “This morning seems to be quite misty; it’s hard to see the road ahead.”

Frosty

  • Def: cool to very cold, with a thin layer of ice covering everything
  • Ex. “We had a frosty morning yesterday; I definitely needed proper winter boots to keep my feet warm to walk to work.”

Category #3: Warm

Tepid

  • Def: not very warm but not cool; imagine warm bath water that has been sitting for a hour, so it’s more room temperature
  • Ex. “The weather in New York is suspiciously tepid for summer.”

Clement

  • Def: pleasant and not extreme
  • Ex. “It’s surprisingly clement for this time of the year.

Balmy

  • Def: warm, yet pleasant; warm temperatures with a gentle breeze
  • Ex. “Most people flock to warmer countries in the winter with the hope of relaxing in balmy weather.

Muggy

  • Def: warm in an unpleasant way in which the air feels damp/humid
  • Ex. “Toronto feels uncomfortable and muggy during peak summer months.”

Humid

  • Def: hot with unpleasant moisture in the air
  • Ex. “Tomorrow’s supposed to be quite humid. Are you sure you don’t want to wear looser clothes?

 

👉 Pop Quiz:
What if you traveled to California expecting rain based on the weather forecast and was surprised by the pleasant, blue sky, and breezy weather. Which adjective would you use to complete the following sentence?

I’m so relieved that the weather is so nice and ____ this week!”

Category #4: Hot

Boiling

  • Def: extremely and unpleasantly hot
  • Ex. “It’s boiling outside! Let’s wait until this evening when it cools down to take our walk.

Scorching

  • Def: hot and dry enough to burn or parch a surface
  • Ex. “Nothing could be better than ice cream on a scorching hot day.

Blistering

  • Def: intensely or severely hot, especially on the skin
  • Ex. “I’d rather not go outside in this blistering weather. The last thing I want is a bad sunburn.

Muggy

  • Def: warm in an unpleasant way in which the air feels damp/humid
  • Ex. “Toronto feels uncomfortable and muggy during peak summer months. No one likes to be outside”

Note: While ‘humid’ and ‘muggy’ are similar, mugginess tends to carry the meaning of hot, still air. Whereas, you can have a humid day with a breeze.

Time to Practice!

Now that you have these more powerful, more descriptive options to talk about the temperature, I want you to practice.

Choose one of these questions and share your answer with me in the comments below.

  1. Use the vocabulary from today’s lesson to describe the current weather in your city. 
  2. Think about your two favorite cities. And choose a month. For example, August or December. How would you compare and describe the weather in those cities during the month?

~ Annemarie

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