Not sure how to spell a word? Hesitate no longer.

18 Jan. “A storm in a teacup.” What does this English idiom mean?

The expression “a storm in a teacup,” is used as a metaphor in English and does not directly relate, as one may imagine, to the weather.


The expression is used to denote a small incident which has been blown out of proportion and exaggerated. In general it is used when someone is unnecessarily angry or worried about something.


The expression “storm in a teacup,” is relevant to British English, however, American English uses the slightly different variant of “a tempest in a teapot.” The expression can be traced back to the Latin “excitabat enim fluctus in simpulo ut dicitur Gratidius,” translated as, “for Gratidius raised a tempest in a ladle, as the saying is.” The expression did not, however, begun to be used in the current form until 1815 when Britain’s Lord Chancellor Thurlow referred to an uprising on the Isle of Mann as “a tempest in a teapot.” It was then in 1838 that the British English version “a storm in a teacup,” was first used in Catherine Sinclair’s Modern Accomplishments. Throughout history it can be found in other forms such as “a storm in a wash-basin,” but the most frequently used remains “a storm in a teacup.”


An example of this expression can be found in the headline of an article on the BBC news website from March 2012 which reads “Google privacy row: storm in a teacup?” The article goes on to explore whether the change in Google’s policy is really as extreme as it has been made out and thus whether people have blown it out of proportion.

Ne ratez pas

Should I be pleased to be described as “the laughing stock?”

publié le 4 June

Have you ever been described as "the laughing stock?" Do you want to know if this is a compliment or not? If this is the case then keep reading and th...

voir plus

What does it mean if something happens at “the eleventh hour?”

publié le 2 June

The English idiom, "at the eleventh hour" is often used in conversation. It can seem rather confusing if you do not have prior knowledge of what it me...

voir plus

Is it a good thing to “kill time?”

publié le 2 June

This English expression is very commonly used, particularly in general day-to-day conversation. If you want to find out when and how to use it, read t...

voir plus