Advanced Thai Vocabulary: Weather and Disaster Words

Written By: Hugh Leong

What better way to break the ice and start a conversation than to talk about the weather? I know it is a bit cliché-ish but, hey, it works. And in Thailand, the sentence, “The rainy season sure is late this year” is a much better conversation starter than “What’s your sign?” And “It sure is hot and humid” beats out, “Do you come here often?” hands down. Really, try it. So, with that in mind, here is a short primer on talking about the weather in Thai.

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The Seasons

First we should know how to talk about the big picture, the seasons. It is well-known that Thailand has three seasons. Well, maybe. There are two common synonyms for “season” in Thai. The word ฤดู /réu-doo/ is of Sanskrit origins and is used in more formal settings like writing or giving a speech. The more common word is หน้า /nâa/. From this point we’ll use the more common word but remember that either one works fine.

Thailand’s three seasons, the ones most guidebooks refer to are:

The rainy season: หน้าฝน /nâa fŏn/ (ฝน /fŏn/ = rain)
The cool/cold season: หน้าหนาว /nâa năao/ (หนาว /năao/ = cold)
The hot season: หน้าร้อน /nâa rón/ (ร้อน /rón/ = hot)

But there are lots of other seasons here too.

Some other terms used with ฤดู /réu-doo/ and หน้า /nâa/ are:

Harvest time: หน้าเก็บเกี่ยว /nâa gèp gìeow/ (season of harvesting)
Animals’ mating season: หน้าติดสัด /nâa dtìt sàt/ (season of being in heat)
Time for rice-planting: หน้าไถหว่าน /nâa tăi wàan/ (season of plowing and sowing)
Rice-growing season: หน้าทำนา /nâa tam naa/ (season of working in the fields)
Dry season: หน้าแล้ง /nâa láeng/ (months when it is not the rainy season)
Monsoon season: หน้ามรสุม /nâa mor-rá-sŭm/ (both English and Thai words are of Arabic origin)

Then of course there are the western seasons:

Spring: nหน้าใบไม้ผลิ /nâa bai mái plì/ (season of budding leaves)
Summer: หน้าร้อน /nâa rón/ (hot season)
Fall/Autumn: หน้าใบไม้ร่วง /nâa bai mái/ rûang (season of falling leaves)
Winter: หน้าหนาว /nâa năao/ (cold season)



The Thai word for “temperature” is อุณหภูมิ /un-hà-poom/. The word for “degree” is องศา /ong-săa/. And, as in English, this word is also used when measuring degrees of angles and of the compass. Thailand uses the Celsius (or Centigrade) scale for temperature.

Here is how the different temperature systems are referred to:

Degrees Centigrade: องศาเซ็นติเกรด /ong-săa sen dtì gràyt/
Degrees Celsius: องศาเซลเซียส /ong-săa sayn-sîat/
Degrees Fahrenheit: องศาฟาเรนไฮต์ /ong-săa faa-rayn-hai/


วันนี้ อุณหภูมิ 29 องศาเซลเซียส
wan née un-hà-poom 29 ong-săa sayn-sîat
Today it is 29 degrees Celsius.

วันนี้ อุณหภูมิ 84 องศาฟาเรนไฮต์
wan née un-hà-poom 84 ong-săa faa-rayn-hai
Today it is 84 degrees Fahrenheit.


The word for humidity is ความชื้น /kwaam chéun/. Humidity is measured in percent. The English word “percent” means “part of 100”. This is exactly how the Thai word for percent is made up: จำนวนร้อยละ /jam-nuan rói lá/ (amount per 100). But it is probably easier to just use the English loan word เปอร์เซ็นต์ /bper-sen/.


วันนี้ความชื้นจำนวนร้อยละ 89
wan née kwaam chéun jam-nuan rói lá 89
The humidity is 89% today.


วันนี้ความชื้น 89 เปอร์เซ็นต์
wan née kwaam chéun 89 bper-sen
The humidity is 89% today.

The Sun

As oppressive as it often is, the sun plays an important part in Thai life.

There are lots of words for “sun”:

ตะวัน /dtà-wan/
ดวงอาทิตย์ /duang aa-tít/
ไถง /tà-ngăi/
ทินกร /tin-ná-gon/
พระอาทิตย์ /prá aa-tít/
รวิ /rá-wí/
รำไพ /ram-pai/
สุริยน /sù-rí-yon/
สุริยา /sù-rí-yaa/

But the easiest to remember, and most used in common speech is พระอาทิตย์ /prá aa-tít/. The prefix พระ /prá/ refers to the sun as a god, just like in many other cultures. Interestingly, the word for “sunny” แดดออก /dàet òk/ uses none of the above. The word แดด /dàet/ means “sunlight”.

The common words for “sunrise”, ตะวันออก /dtà-wan òk/, and “sunset” ตะวันตก /dtà-wan dtòk/ use the word ตะวัน /dtà-wan/ for “sun” and are also the same words used for the compass directions of “east” where the sun “comes out” ออก /òk/ and for “west” where it “goes down” ตก /dtòk/.

Another word for the sun, อาทิตย์ /aa-tít/, is the common word for “week”. And วันอาทิตย์ /wan aa-tít/ is the word for “Sunday”. There is also a more formal word for “week” of Pali origin, สัปดาห์ /sàp-daa/. And the word for “weekend” is วันสุดสัปดาห์ /wan sùt sàp-daa/ (The days at the end of the week).

The Moon

If anything, there are more Thai words for “moon” and its phases than there are for the sun.

จันทร์ /jan/
พระจันทร์ /prá jan/
แข /kăe/
จันทรา /jan-traa/
ดวงจันทร์ /duang jan/
ดวงเดือน /duang deuan/
เดือน /deuan/
ศศิธร /sà-sì-ton/

Half moon: เดือนครึ่งดวง /deuan krêung duang/
Quarter moon: เดือนครึ่งเสี้ยว /deuan krêung sîeow/
New moon: เดือนดับ /deuan dàp/
Full moon: เดือนเต็มดวง /deuan dtem duang/
The full moon: บุณมี /bun-ná-mee/
Full-moon day: วันเพ็ญ /wan phen/

And as with the word for “sun”, the most commonly heard is the one where the moon is made a godhead, พระจันทร์ /prá jan/. One of the words for “moon” เดือน /deuan/ is the same Thai word as we use for “month”. This is exactly the same as is done in English as the words “moon” and “month” both have the same Sanskrit root, as does the word “menstruation”, which in Thai is ประจำเดือน /bprà-jam deuan/ (monthly).

The various Thai words for sun and moon offer many roots for Thai names. The tongue-twisting word เดือนเต็มดวง /deuan dtem duang/, meaning “full moon” is the name of the former female mayor of Chiang Mai. Try saying her name 5 times in a row. An expat friend of mine once made a super faux pas scrambling up her name when introducing her to a large audience. Even she laughed.

The Weather

The Thai word for “weather”, อากาศ /aa-gàat/, is the same word for “air” and “climate”. Good weather is อากาศดี /aa-gàat dee/.

The following are “bad weather” words:

Storm: พายุ /paa-yú/
Thunderstorm: พายุฟ้าคะนอง /paa-yú-fáa-ká-nong/ (rumbling sky)
A lightning strike: ฟ้าผ่า /fáa pàa/ (split sky)
Lightning: ฟ้าแลบ /fáa-lâep/ (flashing sky)
Thunder: ฟ้าร้อง /fáa róng/ (crying sky)
Humid: ชื้น /chéun/
Stuffy; sweltering; humid: อบอ้าว /òp âao/ (roasting hot)
Rain: ฝน /fŏn/
To drizzle: ปรอย ๆ /bproi bproi/
To drizzle; sprinkle: พรำ /pram/
Drizzle; fine drops: พรำ ๆ /pram pram/
Cloudy: มีเมฆมาก /mee mâyk mâak/ (lots of clouds)
Fog; mist; foggy; misty: หมอก /mòk/
Smog: ควัน /kwan/ (smoke)

Talking about the weather

Now for some sentences that a TV weatherperson might say. All work well when added to the phrases like the ones below.

Today: นนี้ /ná-née/
This evening: เย็นนี้ /yen née/
This season: หน้านี้ /nâa née/
Nowadays: ทุกวันนี้ /túk wan née/
Tomorrow: พรุ่งนี้ /prûng née/
This year: ปีนี้ /bpee-née/

aa-gàat dee yen née
Nice weather this evening.

dàet òk wan née
It’s sunny today.

nâa née yen sà-baai
It’s comfortably cool this season.

túk wan née aa-gàat yâe
The weather is terrible nowadays.

wan née rón mâak
Today it’s really hot.

nâa née fŏn dtòk mâak
It rains a lot this season.

fŏn jà dtòk yen née
It’s going to rain this evening.

aa-gàat òp âao
It sure is hot and humid.

paa-yú jà maa prûng née
There’s a storm coming tomorrow.

bpee-née nâa fŏn maa cháa
The rainy season sure is late this year.


For those living in Thailand, it would help to learn Thai vocabulary being used (sadly, quite often used) in daily conversation, on TV, and in the newspaper. Here’s wishing that these words will be used less and less in days to come.

Flood: น้ำท่วม /náam-tûam/
– water: น้ำ /náam/
– inundated: ท่วม /tûam/

This is the general word used for flooding. It is a compound word.

Flood: อุทกภัย /ù-tók-gà-pai/
– equivalent to the English prefix “hydro”: อุทก /ù-tók/
– danger: ภัย /pai/

This is the word for “flood” that you might hear on a news report. It is not commonly used in everyday speech but these days you hear it quite often on TV. It is another compound word.

Danger: อันตราย /an-dtà-raai/

The everyday word for “danger” or “dangerous” in Thai is อันตราย /an-dtà-raai/. But when talking about danger on the “disaster” level the Thais use some words with a little more impact.

The Thai word ภัย /pai/ also means “danger” but is most often used as a prefix/sufix with other words of dangerous situations.

Besides อุทกภัย /ù-tók-gà-pai/ (flood), here are a few more compound words using ภัย /pai/:

Jeopardy: ภัยอันตราย /pai-an-dtà-raai/
– danger: อันตราย /an-dtà-raai/

Catastrophe; tragedy: ภัยพิบัติ /pai-pí-bàt/
– catastrophe, calamity: พิบัติ /pí-bàt/

Disaster; calamity; catastrophe: ภัยพินาศ /pai pí-nâat/
– destruction: พินาศ /paí-nâat/

Natural disaster: ภัยทางธรรมชาติ /pai taang tam-má-châat/
– by, via: ทาง /taang/
– nature: ธรรมชาติ /tam-má-châat/

Drought: ภัยแล้ง /pai láeng/
– dry: แล้ง /láeng/

To be safe (from danger): ปลอดภัย /bplòt-pai/
– free from, safe from, without: ปลอด /bplòt/
– danger, jeopardy: ภัย /pai/

And of course we can’t forget FROC (ศปภ.) short for Flood-Relief Operations Command (ศูนย์ปฏิบัติการช่วยเหลือผู้ประสบอุทกภัย). The title of the organization is made up of the following:

Center: ศูนย์ /bpà-dtì-bàt gaan/
Action: ปฏิบัติการ
To help: ช่วยเหลือ /chûay lĕua/
Flood victims: ผู้ประสบอุทกภัย /pôo bprà-sòp u-tók pai/
Person: ผู้ /pôo/
To encounter: ประสบ /bprà-sòp/
Water: อุทก /u-tók/
Danger: ภัย /pai/

Crisis: วิกฤต /wí-grìt/

This word is used for all kinds of situations from flooding to political unrest. “Political crisis” (วิกฤตการเมือง /wí-grìt gaan-meuang/) was heard often when the Red Shirts clashed with the Yellows.

Time of crisis: ช่วงวิกฤต /chûang-wí-grìt/
– time period: ช่วง /chûang/

Crisis, emergency: วิกฤตการณ์ /wí-grìt-dtà-gaan/ (alternate spelling วิกฤตกาล)
– event: การณ์ /gaan/

Some other words you might encounter when the subject is disasters:

Landslide: ดินถล่ม /din-tà-lòm/
– land, soil: ดิน /din-/
– cave in, collapse: ถล่ม /tà-lòm/

Critical (emergency); urgent: ฉุกเฉิน /chùk-chěrn/

Emergency: เหตุการณ์ฉุกเฉิน /hàyt-gaan-chùk-chěrn/
– event, situation: เหตุการณ์ /hàyt-gaan/

Emergency room, ER: ห้องฉุกเฉิน /hông-chùk-chěrn/
– room: ห้อง /hông/

Tsunami: คลื่นยักษ์ /klêun-yák/ (also used is a loan word from Japanese สึนามิ /sèu-naa-mí/)
– wave: คลื่น/klêun/
– giant: ยักษ์ /yák/

Drought: ความแห้งแล้ง /kwaam-hâeng-láeng/
– dry: แห้ง /hâeng/
– dry, arid: แล้ง /láeng/

Sandbag: กระสอบทราย /grà-sòp-saai/
– bag, gunny sack: กระสอบ /grà-sòp/
– sand: ทราย /saai/

Submerge: ดำน้ำ /dam-náam/ (same word is used for snorkeling)
– submerse: ดำ /dam/
– water: น้ำ /náam/

Here are a few disaster words I picked up scanning recent newspapers:

Collapse (structure): ถล่ม /tà-lòm/
Dike: คันกั้นน้ำ /kan gân-náam/
Evacuate: อพยพ /òp-pá-yóp/ (also means migrate)
Panic: แตกตื่น /dtàek dtèun/
Storm: พายุ /paa-yú/ (also sometimes used is the word loan for monsoon มรสุม /mor-rá-sǔm/ (Sanskrit?)
Typhoon: ไต้ฝุ่น /dtâai-fùn/ (also ลมไต้ฝุ่น /lom-dtâi-fùn/ and พายุไต้ฝุ่น /paa-yú-dtâi-fùn/)

Useful Phrase Examples

If you’ve found yourself in Thailand during the floods, the few phrases below will help you to communicate at a basic level with your Thai neighbours and friends.

Please note that I left out the honorifics for brevity. I also dropped most of the personal pronouns since in regular conversation they aren’t really needed, or used often. Also, the word for flood น้ำท่วม /nám-tûam/ will often be shortened in regular conversation to just ท่วม /tûam/.

Everything is interpretation and not translated word-for-word.

bâan kun nám tûam máai
Is your house flooded?

ครับ ท่วมแล้ว
kráp tûam láew
Yes, it’s flooded.

ไม่ ยังไม่ท่วม
mâi yang-mâi-tûam
No, not yet.

taew-bâan bpen yang-ngai-bâang
How is your neighborhood?

It’s completely flooded.

yang hâeng yòo
It’s still dry.

tûam naan máai
Has it been flooded long?

tûam bprà-maan nèung aa-tít
About a week.

tûam mâi naan
Not long.

krôp krua bpen yang ngai bâang
How is your family?

túk kon sà-baai dee
Everyone is OK.

rao túk kon nèuay mâak
We are all very tired.

ja ̀hâi pom chûay a-rai máai
Can I help you with anything?

mâi kòp kun
No thank you.

kòp kun têe taam
Thanks for asking.

kun mee têe yòo reu bplào
Do you have a place to stay?

mee kráp
Yes we do.

yang haa yòo
We are still looking.

mee aa haan láe nám por máai
Do you have enough food and water?

por kráp
Yes we do.

rao dtông gaan aa haan láe nám
We need food and water.

kǒr chûay nòi
Can you help me please?

dâai kráp
Yes I can.

kun dtông gaan a-rai bâang
What do you need?

kor hâi nám lót long reo ná
Let’s hope the water recedes quickly.

hen dûay

For sure.

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