Why does the word “muggy” refer to warm and humid conditions?

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Dear Tom,

I have a question regarding the origin of the word “muggy”. Why does it refer to warm and humid conditions?

R. Turnbull

Dear R.,

The American Meteorological Society’s Glossary of Meteorology defines “muggy” as a colloquial term for warm and especially humid weather and most dictionaries defines the term as relating to warm or hot and humid conditions with little stirring of the air. It is frequently used to describe the weather on a calm, summer night when the dew point is near or above 70, and people perspire just sitting still. It is less often used during the day when winds are strong enough to lessen the impact of the humidity. Its origin seems to date back to the 1700s and the Norse word “mugga”, which translates to drizzle or mist- weather conditions associated with extremely humid weather.


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