The weather-related use of the word “close”

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
My mother always used the word “close” to describe hot and humid conditions. What is the origin of the usage?
—Micheal Cierpiot,
Downers Grove
Dear Michael,
The weather-related use of the word “close” has been traced to writings as far back as the 1500s. It originally related to being confined in an indoor closed space without much air circulation. The use of the term was then expanded to describe these conditions outdoors on very warm or hot and humid days with little wind. The term is frequently used to describe a stifling, breezeless environment where people sweat profusely and their clothes stick to them. Thinking in a more scientific vein, weather conditions described as “close” occur when the humidity is high and the temperature is close to the dew point, though that likely had little to do with the term’s origin.

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