I’ve never paid much attention to the weather except to figure out how to dress when I go for a walk. Nor have I paid much attention to the wind except to stay inside when the velocity picks up. But lately, I’ve been tracking the weather where I’m staying since this tends to be a windy area, and I do not like walking in strong winds in the desert. (Sand blowing in my eyes is not something I particularly enjoy.) So, when I see that winds of 8 to 15 mph are expected, I plan my walks for the calmer times. To me, anything more than a gentle breeze is a wind, and one to be avoided.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that winds with speeds of 4 to 31 miles per hour are considered to be breezes. A thirty-mile an hour wind is a breeze? Not in my world! I always thought the term “gentle breeze” was redundant, but apparently not. What I considered to be a gentle breeze — anything less than 4 miles per hour — is not even a breeze. It’s just light air movement. A gentle breeze is a wind with a speed of 8 to 12 miles per hour. A fresh breeze is a wind with a speed of 19 to 24 miles per hour. A strong breeze is a wind with a speed of 24 to 31 miles per hour. A gale is a wind with a wind speed of 32 to 63 miles per hour. My dictionary defines a gale as a strong current of air. Who knew Webster had such a sense of understatement! (In case you’re interested, a storm is stronger than a gale, and a hurricane strongest of all.)
In light of this information, a person with a breezy disposition would an uptight harridan, and something that’s “a breeze” would be hard enough to blow you away. “The test was a breeze” no longer seems to make sense, but saying, “the test was a light air movement” loses something in the translation. I’ve always been a stickler for using words properly, but breeze is such a light, breezy word, that I will probably continue to use it the way I always have, to mean a gentle air current, something easy, or someone cheerful and free.