dull, cloudy, overcast

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Senior Member
All these words refer to a day without sunshine, but how do they differ?
I think that on a ‘cloudy’ day you may see some sky between separate clouds. Judging from my dictionary, ‘dull’ is more about impression that such a day makes, and ‘overcast’ refers to meteorological conditions. Am I right in my guesses?
  • *cat*

    Senior Member
    Cloudy - just like you wrote. But there's no need to see the sky between clouds.
    Dull - you could say "a dark day" and it certainly makes you feel lazy and "not in the mood", if you understand. Yes, it's more emotional description of the weather than physical.
    Overcast - I would say that this is a start of cloudy day - you know, it was clear, but now the clouds are covering the sky.

    That's my opinion.


    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    My dictionary gives dull and cloudy as the definition of overcast, so they're pretty much synonymous. However, I think you're more or less correct in your interpretation:
    In terms of usage, I would say that overcast is perhaps more technical, although I would not be surprised to hear any or all of these words in a weather forecast.
    Dull does seem to imply something of a depressing feel or mood to the day.
    Cloudy is merely physically descriptive, and as you say, the sky may not be completely overcast.

    Apparently more than 50% of days are overcast in the UK, so I'm glad to be in Spain :).


    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Cloudy can as you say mean breaks in the cloud, some blue sky visible - or not.
    Whereas overcast to me means a grey sky with no blue. Then there is not much light - you might say the light conditions are dull. But to me, 'a dull day' means a boring day.
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