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From Old French tempeste (French: tempête), from Latin tempestas ‎(storm), from tempus ‎(time, weather)



tempest ‎(plural tempests)

  1. A storm, especially one with severe winds.
    • 1847, Herman Melville, Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas, ch. 16:
      As every sailor knows, a spicy gale in the tropic latitudes of the Pacific is far different from a tempest in the howling North Atlantic.
    • 1892, James Yoxall, chapter 5, The Lonely Pyramid:
      The desert storm was riding in its strength; the travellers lay beneath the mastery of the fell simoom. [] Roaring, leaping, pouncing, the tempest raged about the wanderers, drowning and blotting out their forms with sandy spume.
  2. Any violent tumult or commotion.
    • 1914, Ambrose Bierce, "One Officer, One Man":
      They awaited the word "forward"—awaited, too, with beating hearts and set teeth the gusts of lead and iron that were to smite them at their first movement in obedience to that word. The word was not given; the tempest did not break out.
  3. (obsolete) A fashionable social gathering; a drum.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Smollett to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



tempest ‎(third-person singular simple present tempests, present participle tempesting, simple past and past participle tempested)

  1. (intransitive, rare) To storm.
  2. (transitive, chiefly poetic) To disturb, as by a tempest.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VII:
      . . . the seal
      And bended dolphins play; part huge of bulk,
      Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait,
      Tempest the ocean.
    • 1811, Percy Bysshe Shelley, "The Drowned Lover," in Poems from St. Irvyne:
      Oh! dark lowered the clouds on that horrible eve,
      And the moon dimly gleamed through the tempested air.



Middle English[edit]


Old French tempeste


tempest (plural tempests)

  1. tempest (storm)