Idiom 123 – under the weather

„Hey Nadine, can you mention something quick about the projected sales figures for 2017 in this afternoon’s meeting with the Budgeting Committee?“

„Sorry Alex, but I’m going home after I finish up this e-mail. I’m feeling under the weather and need some rest.“

„Oh no! Okay, then could you send me the figures? I guess I’ll have to do it…“

At this time of year, it’s easy to imagine what we we mean when we talk about feeling under the weather (nicht ganz auf der Höhe sein). We’re not feeling well, we might be getting sick, we might have even had a bit too much to drink the night before and haven’t quite recovered!

There are a few theories about where this idiom came from, and they are all nautical. The first theory stipulates that a ship’s log (Schiffstagebuch) included a column (Spalte) for sick crew members. When this column filled up during times of widespread illness, the names of all additional crew members were listed in the next column, which was often the column for weather. Thus, these sick crew members were listed „under the weather.“

The second theory explains that during times of poor weather and rough seas, crew members who were assigned watch duty on the „weather“ side of the ship, also known as the windward (or in German – Luv) side often became sick after their watch duty was over, as they had been constantly exposed to wind, rain and waves for the duration of their watch.

Which theory do you think makes more sense?