misty, light rain (spit?), drizzle, precipitation.

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sudexpress

Senior Member
Hi,

I've got a question for both AmE and BE natives. How would you call the light rain, the one you can barely see?
I'd say light rain or it's drizzling but I read in askoxford.com Brits may say spit, or spit rain (not too sure about this last one).
And what about misty rain?
I read drizzle too in the WR.
Any other words?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • out2lnch

    Senior Member
    English-Canada
    We say 'drizzling', but we also have 'spitting' (although not for this type of rain). For that depressing, misty rain, I think I describe it as a drizzle.
     

    vicky1027

    Senior Member
    usa english
    I would call it a mist. In my opinion, a drizzle is a little bit more, like a really light rain. But a mist is finer than that.
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Certainly in Scotland, where it was almost a continuous state of affairs, "spitting" was almost considered to be a nice day!
     

    sudexpress

    Senior Member
    Thanks for all your your suggestions.
    Do you think there is a difference between mist and drizzle?
    I'm trying to search the word "llttle light rain" that fits better in general terms, so that anyone, anywhere, no matter if french or spanish (so translated into a precise word) may understand.
    May you help me?
    Thanks
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If I were doing the defining:

    A drizzle is a light rain with very small droplets of water.

    A mist is a lighter rain with droplets so small as to resemble condensation on smooth surfaces.
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    Mist to me is like a wet fog, like walking into a steam room, only its cold and horrible

    Drizzle is fine rain that really soaks through your clothes.

    Spitting is the first onset of rain, just before the downpour and then it rains buckets, or cats and dogs, or as we say around here, chucking it down!

    Scotch mist (to me) is a something imagined. Like "What are you buying me for my birthday?" "scotch mist!" which means nothing at all. I don't know the origins of that expression, but scotch mist is a figment of imagination.
     
    sudexpress,

    Katie seems to have explained it perfectly. I think drizzle is probably the word for you. Mist suggests a more static state (the cloud of tiny water droplets suspended rather than falling) and is, according to Merriam-Webster approaching the form of rain, but it's not really rain. I also think that drizzle is more universally used to mean pretty much the same thing. You could also say a very light shower but it's very technical.
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Scotch mist (to me) is a something imagined.

    I think that is the wrong impression; I certainly remember them as almost the norm in the spring and fall, particularly around Loch Lomond, as a very damp haze.
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    haar

    That term is used along most of the east coast of Britain, not just Scotland. When I was working in County Durham, and driving over to the coast, it was not an unusual phenomenon to come across.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We seem to be missing mizzle, which quite logically fills the gap between mist and drizzle.
    It's partly a question of droplet size.
    <100 microns - mist droplets are so small that they remain suspended in the air.
    100-200 Mizzle
    200-300 Drizzle
    300-1,000 Light rain
    >1000 Rain

    It's partly a question of duration.
    A shower doesn't last so long that you couldn't wait for it to stop before going out.

    It's partly a question of inter-droplet spacing.
    Terms like spitting apply when it would be possible for an agile person with exceptional eyesight to dodge the drops.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, Panjo, I'd use mizzle for something that's a bit thicker than mist but less persistent than drizzle.

    OH AND: I wouldn't say that spitting is necessarily followed by heavy/heavier rain ~ sometimes it just spits for a bit then gives up altogether.
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    I would have thought the only place you got mizzle was on the top of the North Yorkshire Moors. I can imagine Heathcliffe looking for Cathy in mizzle. (They are two characters from Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte).
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    Agree 100%, Katie (except that that's West Yorkshire:D ~ and who said pedantry was dead?)
    Well, you're certainly keeping it alive and well!!! :)

    But all the good, because I really thought it was North Yorkshire, although I should have know better, because as I head over the pennines on my way to Leeds, I always see a sign pointing the way to "Bronte Country" and I keep saying to myself, one day I will go there. Your pendantism is educating me and that can't be a bad thing. :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would have thought the only place you got mizzle was on the top of the North Yorkshire Moors. I can imagine Heathcliffe looking for Cathy in mizzle. (They are two characters from Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte).
    I suspect that mizzle may be a moor or mountain manifestation. We get it on the Mournes.
     
    Mizzle sounds fascinating.

    However, allow me a reminder: sudexpress was trying to search the word "little light rain" that fits better in general terms, so that anyone, anywhere, no matter if French or Spanish may understand.

    I really, really doubt that mizzle fulfils that requirement.;)
     

    wiedemann

    Member
    colombia(spanish)
    Drizzle is the right word to mean slight drop ofrain.
    Sometimes, people make mistake by saying it's raining when it's just starting to raing.
    we have to say: it's drizzling.

    when it's start raining heavily, we say it's raining or it's raining heavily.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I would say "It is misting".
    This is the one I'm familiar with that would fit perfectly with what you want to say.

    Imagine closing your eyes and feeling the wet but not the individual droplets of moisture.

    So light, so gentle...it's barely there, but you know it is because you feel the dampness.

    AngelEyes
     

    monkfish

    New Member
    English-Scotland
    In Scotland we would call that smirr and describe the weather as dreich. We might even be scunnered by it. Haar is not used the length of the east coast of the UK- only very northern parts of England (such as Durham) use it, but it is used the length of the east coast of Scotland. It specifically refers to the mist that comes in from the North Sea, a very smoky and atmospheric mist which I am looking out of my window at right now.
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    One should never forget the Scotch mist, one of the few places where Scotch is the correct word. It is something less than a drizzle, but more than a dry day-a wetness in the air that one is aware of, but can't really see. Interestingly, I have just asked my wife, born and bred in Co Durham, and the term "haar" is unfamiliar to her. By the way, I have always understood "dreich" to mean dreary, and often needing a drink!
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    'Scotch mist' means 'nothing at all'.
    Well, my dictionary defines Scotch mist as a "heavy wet mist", although I would prefer a very light wet mist. The dictionary is English!!! Certainly the intent of the phrase in my time has always been a sort of almost nothing but still causing some disturbance.
     

    Broccolicious

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Well, my dictionary defines Scotch mist as a "heavy wet mist", although I would prefer a very light wet mist. The dictionary is English!!! Certainly the intent of the phrase in my time has always been a sort of almost nothing but still causing some disturbance.
    Well, I never! Does the dictionary also have the meaning that KH described in post 14?
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I never! Does the dictionary also have the meaning that KH described in post 14?
    Indeed it does. KH was giving the forecast for a normal summer day, in my time, and I suspect that is where the term we are discussing arises. I can't talk about today, because I haven't been there for at least a quarter of a century, but it was a rare occasion in my time to have a completely sunny, dry day.
     
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