Adventures in Etymology – Storm

In this Adventure in Etymology we’re stirring up the origins of the word storm, as it’s been quite stormful (abounding in storms, stormy) here in the UK recently.


A storm [stɔːm/stɔɹm] is:

  • an extreme weather condition with very strong wind, heavy rain, and often thunder and lightning
  • A heavy expulsion or fall of things
  • A violent agitation of human society [source]

It comes from Middle English storm (storm, dispute, brawl, fight), from Old English storm (storm), from Proto-West-Germanic *sturm (storm), from Proto-Germanic *sturmaz (storm), from PIE *(s)twerH- (to stir up, agitate, urge on, propel) [source]

Words from the same roots include steer, stir, turbine, turbulence and turbo in English, turba (mob) in Spanish, torma (crowd, throng) in Italian, and twrf (disturbance, tumult) in Welsh [source].

Incidentally, stormful means abounding with storms or stormy, and when the weather is stormful, you might be bestormed (overtaken with a storm, assailed with storms), stormbound (caught in a storm) or stormtossed (tossed by the wind in a storm), so make sure everything is stormworthy (fit for weathering a storm) and stormproof (capable of resisting a storm).

Here’s a stormy little song called Thunder Vengeance by Lovebites, one of my favourite Japanese bands:

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I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog.

One thought on “Adventures in Etymology – Storm

  1. One of my favourite phrases we have here in Canada is “storm stayed”, used to describe the situation of being trapped somewhere by a snowstorm and having to make the best of things. It doesn’t necessarily man you are actually out in the weather but just holed up somewhere and waiting for the storm to pass.

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