Word Confusion: Weather vs Wether vs Whether

Posted March 5, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 13 October 2017

Whether or not we brave the weather is all about choices. Whether we want to take the chance of being stuck in a snowdrift, planing across the road due to too much rain, or enduring the glare of the sun through the windshield. Choosing to be prepared for whatever the weather may throw at you.

A different version of wether popped up with a more solid appearance on the landscape — as opposed to the more ephemeral weather or the abstract whether. This wether is generally considered a stubborn critter…much like myself.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Weather Wether Whether
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Tornado in central Oklahoma

“Dszpics” by Daphne Zaras.Runningonbrains at en.wikipedia is in the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons

A tornado qualifies as “weather”.


a stamp with a curly-horned ram on it

“Faroe Stamp” courtesy of Arne List was released into the public domain by its copyright holder, Postverk Føroya – Philatelic Office, via Wikimedia Commons

I reckon this ram must be a wether to hold so still for this photo.


GI in a possibly hostile village

“GI Wonders Whether Civilians will be Friendly or Hostile” is part of a set of slides from DoD Biometrics Consortium Conference, 13 Sep 2007, as an unknown, derivative work by Geo Swan. It is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: weathers
Past tense or past participle: weathered
Gerund or present participle: weathering

Noun
Plural: wethers
Conjunction; Pronoun
Noun:
A change in the atmosphere

  • The elements
  • [Modifier] Denoting the side from which the wind is blowing, especially on board a ship

Verb, intransitive:
Wear away or change the appearance or texture of something by long exposure to the air

  • [Of rock or other material) be worn away or altered by long exposure to the air

Verb, transitive:
Wear away or change the appearance or texture of something by long exposure to the air

[Falconry (use weathering] Allow a hawk to spend a period perched on a block in the open air

Literal; metaphorical] Come safely through a storm

  • Withstand a difficulty or danger
  • [Sailing (of a ship)] Get to the windward of (a cape or other obstacle)

[Architecture] Make boards or tiles overlap downward to keep out rain

  • Use boards or tiles to keep out the rain, snow, or wind

[Nautical; of a ship, mariner, etc.] To pass or sail to the windward of something

Male sheep or ram

  • Castrated ram or billy goat
whether or no is a common phrase used to indicate choices or possibilities


Expressing a doubt or choice between alternatives

Or is usually in there somewhere

Expressing an inquiry or investigation (usually through an indirect question)

Pronoun:
[Archaic] Which or whichever (of two)

Examples:
Noun:
Hmmm, I wonder what the weather will be like when we get there?

Keep a weather eye on that storm coming in.

Those stone walls must provide good shelter from the wind and weather.

If the weather’s good, we can go for a walk.

You’re making heavy weather of digging over the garden, Henry.

No, I’m just feeling under the weather these days.

She remained a good friend in all weathers.

Get to the weather side of the yacht!

Verb, intransitive:
The ice sheet preserves specimens that would weather away more quickly in other regions.

His face was weathered from all the exposure to the elements.

The cliff face was weathered from the wind and waves pounding against it.

Verb, transitive:
This year has tested industry’s ability to weather recession.

Be sure to weather those boards.

She weathered the cape in style.

“And Osgar got up, but the wether put him down under one of his feet, so that it had now the three men under him.” – Lady I. A. Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men

“Choose a fine-grained leg of wether mutton, of twelve or fourteen pounds weight; cut it ham shape, and let it hang two days.” – Mary Eaton, The Cook and Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, in all Its Various Branches

Conjunction:
I’m going whether you like it or not.

Well, it’s a question of whether or no the storm comes in as expected.

I’ll see whether she’s home (the or not is implied).

Pronoun:
Which one of the two do you like?

I like whichever one of the two you like.

Derivatives:
Adjective: weather-beaten

Noun: weatherer, weathering

History of the Word:
Old English weder is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch weer and the German Wetter. Old English of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch weer and the German Widder. Old English hwæther, hwether is of Germanic origin and related to the German weder meaning neither.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Shepherd with a Flock of Sheep by Vincent van Gogh is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


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