Learn English idioms | A storm in a teacup
English idioms are colourful expressions we use that have a special meaning. What does it mean in English when someone says that a problem is just a storm in a teacup? Watch this video lesson and find out more about English idioms...
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It's just a storm in a teacup.
This is a great expression and it sounds like a very British expression. Anything to do with tea and teacups sounds very British.
A storm in a teacup means a small disagreement or a small argument but it's not important. At the time you might think it's really important and you might feel very emotional, you might get into a big argument with someone, but when you step back and you look at the situation it's really not that important.
So a storm in a teacup is obviously very small and it'll pass very quickly. You might have a big argument with someone in your family and because it's your family you feel very emotional and you might shout and get upset but because it's family and you know each other well and you love each other the argument will pass and you will solve the problem so you could say, it wasn't that important.
So where does the expression come from? Well, there have been lots of variations on the expression throughout history going back thousands of years. People have talked about storms in spoons and storms in basins and storms in glasses of water. What do they have in common? Well, they're all small containers of liquid, so obviously anything that happens in that small container of liquid like a glass or a spoon is not big. It's not going to affect anything else. It's not like a storm in a big, open sea.
People have been saying a storm in a teacup since the 19th century, probably as British people started drinking more tea. So, now we have the expression, a storm in a teacup.