I'm currently having a discussion with colleagues about what this is.

Basically it's kind of a cloud has rolled into to ground level. It's not raining in the sense that there are no drops of water falling from the sky, but it causes everything to be wet.

What do you call this?

I'm not sure I would call it drizzle either - because there doesn't appear to be distinct water drops.

  • 1
    If it's not fog (not making everything wet), it's a fine drizzle. That eventually makes everything wet. Also allows for great photo ops. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:21
  • 1
    Dane Cook would agree with me that the word moist might fit ... youtube.com/watch?v=1nRMmrY_Qh4
    – John Samps
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:22
  • 10
    In the UK it's called "summertime". Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 2:03
  • Based on the comments and answers here, I'll not be visiting the UK anytime soon!
    – dotancohen
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 14:56
  • 1
    According to a construction-worker friend's boss (who is required to shut down a job if it's raining), "it's not rain, it's water in the air!"
    – hobbs
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 16:21

11 Answers 11


This is a rather difficult call, but essentially it comes down to "drizzle," "fog," or "mist," - or some undefined middle point between two of these states (fizzle?), so take your pick. With fog and mist, condensation is the key.


enter image description here

The National Weather Service defines drizzle as:

“Fairly uniform precipitation composed exclusively of fine drops with diameters of less than 0.5 mm very close together. Drizzle appears to float while following air currents, although unlike fog droplets, it falls to the ground.”

The definition of drizzle in the Glossary of Meteorology (American Meteorological Society, 1959) is:

“Very small, numerous, and uniformly dispersed, water drops that may appear to float while following air currents. Unlike fog droplets, drizzle falls to the ground. It usually falls from low stratus clouds and is frequently accompanied by low visibility and fog.

In weather observations, drizzle is classified as (a) “very light”, comprised of scattered drops that do not completely wet an exposed surface, regardless of duration; (b) “light,” the rate of fall being from a trace to 0.25 mm per hour: (c) “moderate,” the rate of fall being 0.25 - 0.50 mm per hour: (d) “heavy” the rate of fall being more than 0.5 mm per hour. When the precipitation equals or exceeds 1mm per hour, all or part of the precipitation is usually rain; however, true drizzle falling as heavily as 1.25 mm per hour has been observed. By convention, drizzle drops are 0.5 mm or less in diameter”

While the observation of drizzle is obviously difficult to automate, it is generally straightforward for an observer to visually assess when drops are too small to be rain drops. It then becomes a question of whether the drops are suspended in air (fog) or falling (drizzle). This is typically done by determining whether the drops can be observed to collect on horizontal surfaces.

National Weather Service

2.) FOG

enter image description here

Water droplets suspended in the atmosphere in the vicinity the earth's surface that affect visibility.

According to international definition, fog reduces visibility below 1 km (0.62 miles). Fog differs from cloud only in that the base of fog is at the earth's surface while clouds are above the surface. When composed of ice crystals, it is termed ice fog. Visibility reduction in fog depends on concentration of cloud condensation nuclei and the resulting distribution of droplet sizes. Patchy fog may also occur, particularly where air of different temperature and moisture content is interacting, which sometimes make these definitions difficult to apply in practice. Fogs of all types originate when the temperature and dew point of the air become identical (or nearly so).

American Meteorological Society

3.) MIST

enter image description here

Mist is a phenomenon caused by small droplets of water suspended in air. Physically it is one instance of a dispersion. It is most commonly seen where warm, moist air meets sudden cooling, such as in exhaled air in the winter, or when throwing water onto the hot stove of a sauna.

The only difference between mist and fog is visibility. This phenomenon is called fog if the visibility is one kilometre (1,100 yards) or less (in the UK for driving purposes the definition of fog is visibility less than 100 metres (UK Highway Code rule 226), for pilots the distance is 1 kilometre). Otherwise it is known as mist. Seen from a distance, mist is bluish, and haze is more brownish.

Mist makes a beam of light visible from the side via refraction and reflection on the suspended water droplets.

"Scotch mist" is a light steady drizzle.

Mist usually occurs near the shores, and is often associated with fog. Mist can be as high as mountain tops when extreme temperatures are low.


  • 4
    This is a very good quality answer. If a more apt answer doesn't come up, I'm probably going to have to concede to calling it drizzle.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 8:58
  • Thanks dw johnston - drizzle can be so light that it isn't perceived as rain, but everything is wet; fog, when it's heavy, also leaves water condensation on all surfaces. Either of these categories can occur any time of day or night. Mist, however, usually only occurs in the morning, but if it's a heavy mist will also leave every surface wet.
    – user98990
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 9:06
  • 5
    "Scotch mist" is a light steady drizzle -- a euphemism, I think. It's also used ironically for rain up to and including "absolutely pelting it down", by Scottish people to imply that English people are feeble, or by English people to imply that Scottish weather is no so sunny. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 12:49
  • 1
    @LittleEva Maybe you're thinking of the English village Westward Ho! which, coincidentally, probably also sees a lot of drizzle... Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:11
  • 1
    Such a good answer! Brava! Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 23:06

I would call the weather damp:

Being in a state between dry and wet; moderately wet; moist.

Damp weather
Source: Mail Online, New Year's Eve set to be damp squib as fog and drizzle ruin fireworks celebrations.

  • 3
    +1 "it's a damp day" is the sort of thing you'd say when the weather causes everything to be damp and miserable but more specific words like "drizzle", "fog", "mist", "dew" and "humidity" don't fit. But note that "damp squib" is an unrelated set phrase, usually used for things that are disappointing or lame but not actually damp - the Mail are using it here as a weak pun (rather a damp squib of a pun, I'd say). Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 14:24
  • @user568458 Thanks. I'm not a native speaker and I didn't know the word squib.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:58
  • No problem, "squib" is barely even a real word! I've literally never heard it except in the expression "damp squib". Apparently it's something to do with explosives... which I guess is why a damp one is no good. I doubt even 1% of native speakers know what "squib" really means! In fact it's such a weird word there's even a comedy sketch about it - youtu.be/XnXKVY-_i2c Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:02
  • Ah, explosives, fireworks, damp, I get it.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:29
  • 1
    A squib is a non-magic user born into a Wizarding family. And you call yourself a Brit... :) Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 16:55

In Scotland, we recognise this meteorological phenomenon very well and have a special term for it: dreich (pronounced dree-[soft]ch).

  • 3
    This is also used in Northern Ireland.
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 11:07
  • 1
    The dictionaries I've found define this word as "dreary, bleak, miserable". While I suppose it's-so-humid-that-I'm-getting-wet is a pretty miserable state of the weather, that's not the primary implication being sought.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:50
  • 2
    Your dictionaries, Martha, are inaccurate. The word dreich, explicity implies humidity and dampness. It would never be used to describe dry conditions that were otherwise dreary, bleak and miserable (you would never describe a desert as dreich, even though it could be all those other things). Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 10:05
  • When you say "soft" ch, this is like "h" in English "huge" or "human" or "ch" in German "nicht" and not the ch in "loch" or German "acht", right? I think the phonetic symbol for this guy would be ç. Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 3:13
  • 1
    @Rod: By soft, I mean as in loch and not as in church. BTW, I don't get the distinction between nicht, loch and acht - to me they all sound the same :-) Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 7:04

Humid: (adj.) containing a lot of moisture in the atmosphere.

  • I'm not sure if this is correct. Humidity refers to the process of water vapor in the air; the only way that water vapor would make things wet is by forming dew. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:08
  • 1
    You could refer to it as "101% humidity". As air temp changes, water is forced out.
    – PCARR
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:39
  • Whoops, ignore the words "the process of" in my comment. Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 16:34

In Britain we say the weather is muggy.

The condition where both humidity and temperature are high enough that everything feels damp.

  • 10
    In New Zealand muggy is used to to describe high temperature and high humidity, which isn't the same as what I'm describing here (which occured on a cold day).
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 8:56
  • Being "muggy" doesn't "cause everything to be [visibly] wet" either (in Britain).
    – MrWhite
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 10:24

Depending on severity, fog (dictionary.com)

noun 1. a cloudlike mass or layer of minute water droplets or ice crystals near the surface of the earth, appreciably reducing visibility.

or mist (dictionary.com)

noun 1. a cloudlike aggregation of minute globules of water suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth's surface, reducing visibility to a lesser degree than fog.

  • 1
    Neither of these necessarily make everything wet.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 5:27
  • 6
    @dwjohnston - if it's misting outside, everything is absolutely going to get wet Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 6:15

I would think to call it dew. Even though dew can be formed when there are no clouds, it can also be classified as the collected moisture you are referring to.

  • dew noun: 1. tiny drops of water that form on cool surfaces at night, when atmospheric vapor condenses.
    – user98990
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 9:31
  • 3
    I would agree with @LittleEva that dew is different, because it appears with only one condition, that is the temperature dropping below the dew point. It doesn't form clouds and you can't see it. When you see it, it's usually called morning fog.
    – yo'
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 9:44
  • @yo' dew can form on a surface whose temperature is below the dew point evenwhen the air temperature is above the dew point. Also, the air temperature normally cannot drop below the dew point. As energy is removed, water vapor becomes liquid, lowering the dew point with the temperature.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 14:22
  • 1
    @phoog I meant below the original dew point of course, sorry for the imprecision. I just wanted to point out that dew is technically very different from the other notions that are being mentioned here :)
    – yo'
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 14:24
  • @yo' that point is very well taken. The dew is the moisture on the thing that is wet, while the question is about the moisture in the air.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:20

clammy - when used in reference to air or atmosphere means damp and unpleasant. When referring to objects means wet, damp, and sticky or slimy to the touch.

So if you are experiencing clammy weather, it often makes everything around clammy - damp, moist, and generally unpleasant.

  • I usually equate 'clammy with cold' and 'humid with hot'. I think this is a good answer.
    – DA.
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:03
  • 1
    it's the best answer here.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 8:14

A combination of mist and drizzle



  • 1
    Pretty sure that's what Snoop Dogg calls a mouse :P
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:22

Dew occurs when the atmosphere reaches the dew point temperature, and every surface exposed to the damp air gets wet:


[MASS NOUN] 1. Tiny drops of water that form on cool surfaces at night, when atmospheric vapor condenses:
Oxford Dictionaries Online

  • Welcome to ELU Skip. Please notice how I improved your post. You will be able to do that for yourself in the future.
    – ScotM
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:44

In Cornwall, UK it's "mizzle" - heavier than mist but not quite drizzle. or "summertime", as noted above

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.