What's the origin of 天气?

天, I'm willing to bet is 老天爷; with phrase like 天公不作美 (天公 = 老天爷) and even the government claiming that:

老天爷为何这么给“面子” 专家细解阅兵前后降雨成因

It seems that the idea that 老天爷 is in charge of the weather would fit quite well here.

But 气? 气 could be a lot of things.

I have no proof here. Just stipulating.

  • I never thought there's an origin of '天气'. I will simply translate/understand '天' to/as 'sky', '气' to/as 'air'. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 2:28

1 Answer 1


气 is vapor, and so 天气 is the vapor of heaven, that is weather. 气候 is climate by analogy, referring to a timespan, or 地气, referring to the vapors of earth.

But 气 is also breath, attitude, atmosphere and similar derived meanings. Poetically, 天气 could mean the influence of the heavens, although it is likely that 天气 was applied to such settings rather than being derived from religion.

樂記 (战国):


The breath (or influence) of earth ascends on high, and that of heaven descends below. These in their repressive and expansive powers come into mutual contact, and heaven and earth act on each other. (The susceptibilities of nature) are roused by the thunder, excited by the wind and rain, moved by the four seasons, and warmed by the sun and moon; and all the processes of change and growth vigorously proceed. Thus it was that music was framed to indicate the harmonious action of heaven and earth.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.