An Indian summer – English Idiom – Online English Lessons

An Indian summer is a period of warm sunny weather in late autumn or early winter in the Northern Hemisphere, usually occurring after a period of cold or frosty weather.

An alternative definition is that an Indian summer is a time of great happiness or success that happens late in a person’s life or career.

There are various explanations of this idiom’s origin, including:

  • late summers are not unusual in parts of the USA which were mostly settled by Native Americans (Indians), and the phrase originated there;
  • at one time the word ‘Indian’ was used to refer to things that were imitations or not genuine – a period of warm sunny weather in autumn is a not a real summer, so it became known as an Indian summer;
  • it was the time of year when the Native Americans harvested their crops.

This expression seems to have become less popular in recent years, possibly because the term “Native American” is now favoured over the term “Indian” in North America.

Examples of use:

1. July, August and September were cold and wet, so we’re hoping for an Indian summer this year.

2. The Indian summer ended suddenly with snow storms and bitterly cold weather.

3. The once-famous actor enjoyed an Indian summer in his career when he starred in a new film.

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