“Under the weather”

We’ve all heard that phrase now and then – perhaps you’ve even used it.

“Not tonight, thanks. I’m feeling under the weather.”

A friend asked me some time back where that phrase came from…and I had no idea.

Turns out its origins are rather unclear. Several references I checked attribute the phrase to a maritime source dating to the mid-1800s. When a sailor was unwell, he was sent down below to help his recovery, under the deck and away from the weather.

But I’ve also read that the term is actually American in origin dating back to the 1820s, when it also meant feeling ill or indisposed.

Then again, friends can tell you that when I’m feeling a tad ornery I am apt to remind them that unless we’re astronauts on a mission we’re all under the weather, no matter what mood or state of health we’re in.