I read this expression in scrappedcola's comment on this question. I never encountered it before, and fail to translate it. What does it mean?


[...] If you have someone [to ask] you should go to them. It could be seen that you are only a fair weather student but depending on the circumstances changing groups might not be a bad thing.

  • You probably "read the expression", not "red the expression" (two homophones)
    – James K
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:18
  • @JamesK O hell. I always forget if you also write the past tense this way or not, I chosed the wrong answer now. Thanks.
    – Neinstein
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:27
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    No worries. Also the past tense of "choose" is "chose" not "chosed". :)
    – James K
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


A "fair weather X" is someone who is X, but only when it's easy. In this particular context, they're talking about being seen as a fair weather student, which is someone who bails on their studies when the going gets tough. A more common usage of the term is "fair weather friend", which is someone who seems to be your friend, but is nowhere to be found when you need some help.

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    I just checked NGrams to see which nouns occur most often after "a fair weather". I can't post the actual link because it's too long for a comment, but you can just append a space and an asterisk to the search string in this link. As expected, the most common word was friend. But interestingly, the next four most common nouns (road, system, sailor, pilot) are all literal (not metaphoric) usages. Aug 23, 2017 at 18:14
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    @Neinstein: What this implies is that "fair-weather friend" is an idiom (which you'll probably find defined in most decent dictionaries). But even though most native speakers would understand your example, it's really just a one-off coinage. You probably won't find many if any dictionaries defining "fair-weather" as a general-purpose "standalone" adjectival form suitable for any noun you care to name. Aug 23, 2017 at 18:19
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    Perhaps "fair-weather sailor" is the original from which the others are derived: a sailor who only goes out when the weather is good. I've also come across "fair-weather golfer". Aug 23, 2017 at 20:35
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    In the US the phrase "fair weather fan" is quite common in sports contexts, meaning someone who is a fan of team X, but only when team X is winning. At this point I think the "fair weather" prefix is common enough to be understand even in less idiomatic contexts. Aug 23, 2017 at 20:47
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    Lol, 'fair weather' is listed as a general purpose standalone adjectival form at dictionary.com, oxford, collins and meriam-webster
    – mcalex
    Aug 24, 2017 at 2:33

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