A storm in a teacup

English sayings

A storm in a teacup
   0 Published by Denisa at 19/09/2018

We say something is "a storm in a teacup" when a small or unimportant event is exaggerated out of proportion, it’s made bigger and more significant than it really is. We can also say somebody is making “a storm in a teacup” if they worry excessively or if they’re enraged with something that is not really as bad as they make it out to be.

In English there are two versions of this saying. In British English we say "a storm in a teacup", while the American version is "a tempest in a teapot". And if this latter version sounds somewhat older, it is because it is actually the earlier version of the two, and it originated in Scotland. While in the United States they’ve borrowed and maintained this older version, in the UK on the contrary, a century or so later, they’ve started using the newer, more modern “storm in a teacup”.

The true origin of the phrase however is an older, slightly different saying that came from Latin. It was used by Cicero in one of his writings and was roughly translated to “stirring billows in a ladle”. Being that the saying is so old is the reason why, in fact, there are versions of this in basically all countries in Europe and even the Middle East. In French or Spanish the equivalent is “a storm in a glass of water”.

We’re sure you now know how to use this expression but if there’s any doubt left, look at the following example:

Jane: Her grades aren’t even that bad, why is she crying?

Sally: She’s just making a storm in a teacup, blowing things out of proportion as usual.

If you’re as excited about English sayings as we are, let us know what you’d like us to write about next. We’d love the hear some of your favourite ones.

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