In the Netherlands we have a term for when for example you're biking on the streets and you have the wind in the back. We call that wind meewind, and we say we have meewind (translated as wind with).

We also have a term for when we have to cycle against the wind. We call that wind tegenwind (literally translated as wind against). We arrive faster at our destination via bike when we have meewind.

Does the English also have two words to describe these two versions of wind?

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    We use the periphrastic 'with the wind at [my] back'. Then there's headwind (against) / tailwind. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 20:12
  • 9
    "Tailwind" is a beloved term to cyclists in the US (while "headwind" is considerably less beloved).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 22:49
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    "With a following wind" is another possibility. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 9:51
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    fyi, this question would have easily be solved just by trying meewind and tegenwind in google translate. it gives the correct translation
    – Ivo
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 15:20
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    "we have a term for when ... you're biking on the streets and you have the wind in the back" - We have a term for that too; it's called "dreaming" Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


The terms are most often heard in connection with aviation (flying), but it would not be incorrect to say that one is riding “with a tailwind” (meewind) or “into a headwind” (tegenwind).

  • 37
    No need to hedge. Tailwind is used in cycling: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/44967/…
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 20:54
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    Not to mention sailing, and pretty much any other activity involving wind.
    – terdon
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:10
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    @Juhasz: And just to avoid any doubt, headwind is also very widely used in cycling.
    – PLL
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 10:30
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    @Juhasz - No it's not. I've never had a tailwind; I've just had days when I've been awesome. Headwinds I get all the time... It's explained beautifully by this answer on the question you linked. ;)
    – AndyT
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 11:42
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    @terdon agreed: Headwind and tailwind are definitely the generally correct terms and I would not consider them "aviation terms": you hear them used constantly in coverage of many Olympic events (winter and summer) for their impact on results in Ski jumping, long jumping, 100m dash (here it's a wash between competitors in one heat but can affect olympic/world record eligibility), etc. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_assistance for example usage in this context Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 21:42

The other answer of headwind/tailwind is absolutely correct to describe the wind itself, but you could also describe directions relative to the wind as upwind and downwind. Moving in an upwind direction means moving into the wind, which itself could then be described as a headwind. Moving downwind means moving in the same direction as the wind, which can then be described as a tailwind. Other terms to describe direction with respect to the wind are windward (upwind) and leeward (downwind). One rides windward into a headwind, and leeward with a tailwind.

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    I've only heard 'windward' and 'leeward' used in relation to geographical features (typically mountains). The refer to which side of the mountain you are relative to the prevailing wind direction, not which direction you are facing. This site explains it well and coincidentally says the corresponding terms in dutch are 'loef' and 'lij'.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 20:27
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    @JimmyJames It's also used commonly in sailing parlance. Turning windward means pointing the boat into the wind (tacking), and turning leeward mean point the boat the same direction as the wind. With a constant wind, the windward and leeward sides of the boat are determined entirely by your heading, so it's an entirely relative term that depends only on what direction you're facing. Windward and leeward sides are fixed for a non-moving object with constant winds, but not for something that can change heading. See rcyc.ca/Doc-Types/Know-Your-Rules/KYRules-March-2012.aspx Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 20:36
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    Upwind and downwind usually refer to the position of something, not the direction of travel. You mention sailing, surely it's "into/against the wind" and "before/with the wind". After all, you can't sail upwind . Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 18:49
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    @WeatherVane You can use upwind and downwind to describe a position or direction, just like any other directional term. I don't see any particular differences between "the animal is to the north", "I am sailing to the north", "the animal is upwind", and "I am sailing upwind". No clue what you mean about not being able to sail upwind, it's called tacking. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:02
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    That's the reason for tacking: you can't sail upwind. And "leeward" is definitely a sailing term, not a bicycling term. A "lee shore". Unless you are on a pedalo. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:04

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