"Cloudy" <vs> "overcast"


Senior Member
Hello. I have heard of people saying both of these things in regards to weather and I just wonder how these are different. I think that with "cloudy", there are some clouds in the sky however the sky is blue and parts of it can still be seen. Whereas with "overcast", the entire sky is covered with grey clouds. Am I correct?

Context: the weather report says it's going to be cloudy tomorrow.

Context 2: I love it when the sky is overcast. I don't have to wear sunscreen when I go out.

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    Senior Member
    American English
    You're basically right.

    From Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist of WGN-TV, in the Chicago Tribune:

    To a meteorologist, the differences between cloudy and overcast are distinct. A cloudy sky is one in which clouds predominate at the expense of sunlight during the day or obscure the stars at night, but there may be occasional breaks in the cloud layer through which blue sky or stars can be seen.

    An overcast sky is totally cloud-covered, usually by a widespread and uniformly gray, featureless cloud layer. There are no openings or breaks.

    There's a bit more on the link, but I reached the four-sentence limit.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    You are right about "overcast". But usually "it is (or will be) cloudy" means that clouds cover most or all of the blue sky. So there are many times when either word would be correct.

    Sometimes there is a fairly low solid cloud covering the whole sky: no individual clouds, just a solid-looking grey ceiling. That is the perfect version of "overcast". When you see individual clouds it is more common to say "cloudy".

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