As is known, a double rainbow is formed when there are two reflections inside a raindrop and a second rainbow, which tends to be fainter than the first, is distinguishable above the first.

Since in 'Shakespeare's Non-Standard English: A Dictionary of His Informal Language' by Norman Blake I found that, as an instance, 'water-gall' means 'small rainbow which at sea precede a storm', I began to wonder whether there is also a word to call that second rainbow. Is there?

Yes, I know that second rainbow or secondary rainbow or even faint rainbow can be used, but I'm looking for an informal or slangy name.

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The specific one OP is talking about is called the secondary rainbow (as opposed to the primary).

There can be more than two. All except the primary are loosely called "supernumerary" rainbows, but supernumerary/stacker rainbow is also a specialised term for multiple bows appearing inside the primary, which are caused by lightwave interference rather than reflection by water droplets.


It's usually called a double rainbow in the US.

Although I misunderstood the question originally (I did not realize that you were looking for a specific piece of a rainbow), apparently, the actual scientific term for the primary and secondary rainbows are just that, as explained by this guide.

  • Yeah but that refers to both, not the one which is above specifically. Mind you, I doubt there is a word for that. – terdon Sep 12 '13 at 17:29
  • @terdon: Huh, I misunderstood the question. I'd agree that there really isn't a word... I've updated my post to reflect the question properly. – Jacobm001 Sep 12 '13 at 17:33
  • @terdon I have heard people use "double rainbow" for specifically the second rainbow before, albeit confusingly. – called2voyage Sep 12 '13 at 20:24

Without doubt, it is called a twobow.

  • Is this term used in the U.S. or in other anglophone countries? – user51029 Sep 12 '13 at 19:00
  • All anglophone countries. – Tom Swifty Sep 12 '13 at 19:19
  • 3
    Please provide a source to go with your answer. – Jacobm001 Sep 12 '13 at 20:19
  • 1
    Yes, do. I've never heard of that term. – terdon Sep 12 '13 at 21:08
  • Allard, R. W.: Principles of Plant Breeding. J. Wiley & Sons Ltd., New York, London 1961 – Tom Swifty Sep 13 '13 at 14:56

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