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Idioms about calm

    calm before the storm. See entry at calm before the storm.

Origin of calm

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English noun and adjective calm(e), from Italian calma (noun), calmo (adjective), from Late Latin cauma “summer heat” (with l perhaps from Latin calēre “to be hot”), from Greek kaûma (stem kaumat- ) “burning heat”; akin to kaíein “to burn” (see caustic); verb derivative of the noun

synonym study for calm

3. Calm, collected, composed, cool imply the absence of agitation. Calm implies an unruffled state, especially under disturbing conditions: calm in a crisis. Collected implies complete inner command of oneself, usually as the result of an effort: He remained collected in spite of the excitement. One who is composed has or has gained dignified self-possession: pale but composed. Cool implies clarity of judgment along with apparent absence of strong feeling or excitement, especially in circumstances of danger or strain: so cool that he seemed calm.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does calm mean?

Calm describes something that is still or barely moving, like a pond or a lake.

Calm can also describe something that is relaxed or free from excitement, as in Yolanda felt calmer after meditating for a few minutes.

Calm can also be used to describe the weather. A calm day isn’t windy or stormy. In meteorology, calm is a wind speed that is less than 1 mile per hour.

As a noun, calm typically describes a lack of motion or a stillness in an area where there once was motion or there will be motion.

Calm can also describe a notable lack of excitement or agitation that was expected to be caused, as in Roberta believed the only way to approach a big task was with calm and patience.

Finally, as a verb, to calm something or someone means to bring it to a pause. You might calm your barking dog by petting it and talking to it in a soothing voice. You might calm an angry friend by talking with them quietly and listening to what’s bothering them.

Example: When you feel nervous in front of a crowd, try to look calm and you’ll soon feel calm.

Where does calm come from?

The first records of the term calm come from around 1350. It ultimately comes from the Greek kaûma, meaning “burning heat.”

You might hear a few common phrases that use the term calm. One is calm down, which means “to make or become less agitated.” When you’re upset over a low grade, you might calm yourself down by taking deep, slow breaths. Another is calm before the storm, which describes a situation in which someone or something is calm before becoming agitated, similar to how an atmospheric pressure and wind current can produce a calming environment just before a storm occurs.

Finally, you might hear keep calm and carry on. This popular phrase was used in a poster in the UK during World War II to help encourage people at home to live life as normally as they could. The phrase has become a popular meme, with a lot of different advice replacing “carry on,” such as “don’t advise me,” “scroll on,” and “read memes.” Our favorite, though, is “keep calm and eat cupcakes” because everyone deserves a treat sometimes!

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to calm?

  • calmingly (adverb)
  • calmly (adverb)
  • calmness (noun)
  • uncalm (adjective)

What are some synonyms for calm?

What are some words that share a root or word element with calm

What are some words that often get used in discussing calm?

How is calm used in real life?

Calm is a common word to describe a lack of excitement or upset.

Try using calm!

Is calm used correctly in the following sentence?

When I saw the spider, I remained calm by screaming and running away.

How to use calm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for calm

/ (kɑːm) /

(often foll by down) to make or become calm

Derived forms of calm

calmly, adverbcalmness, noun

Word Origin for calm

C14: from Old French calme, from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma heat, hence a rest during the heat of the day, from Greek kauma heat, from kaiein to burn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012