storm in a teacup

Definition: Something minor or trivial that is blown out of all proportion.

Example: The debate at the Christmas dinner table over which side of the plate to put the dessert spoon soon developed into a storm in a teacup, with Grandma hitting Uncle Bob squarely between the eyes with her own spoon.


Storm in a teacup is the UK version of the phrase, Tempest in a teapot, the American.

Why there is so much inclement weather in drinking vessels is a bit unclear. However, what is apparent, is that same weather is not restricted just to teacups and teapots.

In 1678, there is record of a storm in a cream bowl. In 1830, there is a storm in a wash-hand basin. It is not until 1825 that the American rendition of tempest in a teapot is reported in a Scottish publication, and another 13 years until the UK version of storm in a teacup appears, also from Scotland.

There are variations on the theme in other languages. The Roman poet, Cicero, refers to ‘stirring up billows in a ladle’ back in 52 BC. The Dutch, to this day, experience a storm in a glass of water. The Hungarians have the most unhygienic storm; a tempest in a potty.

Iddy’s relieved that he didn’t need to check that one out.

Leave a Reply