International Swear Words to Love and Use: Weather Style!

I was always confident I would one day have the opportunity to use this photo...
I was always confident I would one day have the opportunity to use this photo…

It’s easy to assume that meteorologists, seemingly mild-mannered people, don’t ever display an emotion “above freezing.”

Okay, so maybe meteorologists aren’t the most profane individuals. And yet, these weather-loving professionals have a passionate mind-set all their own. What we hear during a news broadcast isn’t strictly scientific terminology regarding low-pressure systems and cumulus clouds.

When sharing weather conditions and predictions, meteorologists sometimes lob peculiar words and phrases at us. Many of these “dew-point daggers” are worthy substitutions for the everyday f-bomb(s) I enjoy dropping from altitudes both high and low.

Have fun traipsing through this latest addition to the “International Swear Words to Love and Use” collection. Once you’re done, you’ll feel just like a 15-year veteran of The Weather Channel (whilst standing on a North Carolina beach as a Category 4 hurricane named Armageddon approaches shore):

When Meteorologists Prognosticate Incorrectly, It’s a Bust (Darn It): This term is considered slang for “An inaccurate forecast or unsuccessful storm chase.” (Source: Glossary of Meteorological Terms, Texas A&M University Atmospheric Sciences)

No, bust isn’t the most egregious of words when expressing frustration. But since it’s not particularly offensive, you can utter it and remain as safe as a kitten video on YouTube. Go ahead and blurt out a bust when you fu@k up!

There’s a Raggedy-@$$ Fractus Among Us: Believe it or not, this particular term is not slang. A fractus merely indicates the presence of “ragged, detached cloud fragments” (Glossary of Meteorological Terms), but I do have a hidden agenda for including it in this post.

First, it sounds like it could be a curse word. Second, a fractus is the same thing as a scud, and that doesn’t seem a good thing to me. Words that sound bad CAN be nasty, as long as you “launch” them with a snarl in your voice.

Long live fractus and scud clouds orphaned in the atmosphere!

Remove your Gunge-y Mind from Your Arcus (Cloud): Ooh, just pronouncing this meteorological term implies something odious. Not to be confused with the genre of music known as grunge, gunge is slang for:

“…anything in the atmosphere that restricts visibility for storm spotting, such as fog, haze, precipitation (steady rain or drizzle), widespread low clouds (stratus), etc.”

For some reason, I think gunge could be the “fu@k” or “godd@mn” of the 21st century. Indulge my wordplay for a moment via this well-known quote from the movie Working Girl:

“You know where you can bury your hatchet? Now get your gunge-y ass out of my sight!”

See what I mean? Gunge is good (you’re welcome).

According to Sartre and His Fellow Existentialists, Helicity Is Other People: There is a special place in h#ll for weather-phobic peeps, and that place is called helicity. Dang, how come it took me so many years to discover this lyrical word?

It rhymes with synchronicity, Felicity, and even animosity. I think I’m in love; I’m going to use this word all summer long! I wonder: Would the Eagles (the band) consider renaming their endless reunion concerts (I’ve lost count…) the “Until Helicity Freezes Over” tour?

I hope you enjoy using this word as much as I expect you to. Oh, I almost forgot–helicity means:

“A property of a moving fluid which represents the potential for helical flow (i.e., flow which follows the pattern of a corkscrew) to evolve.”

Jean-Paul Sartre must have studied weather as a hobby. He probably did so to ease his pain when thinking about how much humans (cork)screw up the concept of free will in their everyday lives.

When Hurtling Weather-Related Invective, Know Your Inflow Stingers from Your Beavers…: Before you assume this post is segueing into a feature article for a porno magazine, I’ll share the official definition of inflow stinger: “A beaver-tail cloud with a stinger-like shape.”

Here are assorted visual examples of beaver-tail clouds. A meteorological inflow stinger is just another way of identifying inflow bands, only this piece of tail looks more like the tail end of a…beaver. Go figure!

I suggest calling someone an inflow stinger when your first instinct is to blurt out the profane versions of “illegitimate child” or “son of a female dog”…

St. Elmo’s Fire Is Much More Than a 1980s “Brat Pack” Film: Yes, I dare go there–why the h#ll not? We all know this movie infamously depicts life after college as nothing but an endless reel of drinking, unrequited love, and acts of amazing stupidity.

However, St. Elmo’s Fire is also a weather phenomenon scientifically referred to as a corona discharge or corposant.

Now that’s more like it–words with which you can pretend to insult people by calling them a luminous electrical discharge! Per the Glossary of Meteorological Terms:

“This name was given to the phenomenon by Mediterranean sailors who regarded it as a visitation of their patron saint, Elmo (Erasmus). An appearance of St. Elmo’s Fire was regarded as a good omen, for it tends to occur in those latter places of a violent thunderstorm when most of the surface wind and wave disturbance is over.”

Yeah, what that definition says…

People Who Slow You Down Are Nothing More Than Tail-End Charlies: Sounds vaguely ominous and insulting, doesn’t it? No one besides you needs to know the meteorological truth. A tail-end Charlie is:

“…the thunderstorm at the southernmost end of a squall line or other line or band of thunderstorms.”

The appeal of this phrase: You can randomly spew it at an obnoxious child you live with and/or an incompetent adult you work with. Whether the name Charlie actually applies to that child or adult is of no consequence. Enjoy!

Other Meteorological Language to Use When You’re Having a Profane Moment:

Core Punch (Slang): “A penetration by a vehicle into the heavy precipitation core of a thunderstorm.”

Dart Leader: “The leader which typically, the first stroke, initiates each succeeding stroke of a composite flash of lightning.”

Knuckles (Slang): “Lumpy protrusions on the edges, and sometimes the underside, of a thunderstorm anvil.”

Loaded Gun (Slang): “A sounding characterized by extreme instability but containing a cap, such that explosive thunderstorm development can be expected if the cap can be weakened or the air below it heated sufficiently to overcome it.”

Orphan Anvil (Slang): “An anvil [the flat top-clouds during a thunderstorm] from a dissipated thunderstorm, below which no other clouds remain.”

PDS Watch: “A tornado watch with enhanced wording.” (As in: Particularly Dangerous Situation!) Meteorological kissing cousins include watch box, blue box, and red box

Please note: All definitions are from the Glossary of Meteorological Terms (via Texas A&M University Atmospheric Sciences). For additional information about the profane implications of weather, please see this Cool Mom Tech article regarding weather apps.


Now’s the time to confess: You never realized the swearing potential of meteorological terms, did you? Well, neither did I until I revisited my editorial calendar about two weeks ago.

Do you happen to know a meteorologist who would appreciate the quirky humor placed upon this blog’s altar? Which of my offerings might suit you best when anger or frustration bubbles up to your lips from the gastric acids lining your stomach?

If nothing else, promise me one thing: When next you tell someone to amble to the very hot place below, please tell that person to go to helicity!

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print or web marketing and educational copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or e-mail By All Writes LLC at  for a no-obligation project quote today!

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