Britons love talking about the weather, and with Europe caught in the midst of a heat wave there’s plenty for them to get excited about. Many parts of China have also been struggling with record-breaking temperatures this hot summer.
But beside from a simple “hot”, what other ways are there to describe the summer heat? Apart from phrases like “piping hot”, “sweltering heat” and “scorching sun”, there are many interesting expressions that relate to unbearably hot weather and offer a glimpse into foreign culture.
而英文中，除了一个简单的“hot”，还有什么哪些形容炎炎夏日的表达方式呢？除了像“piping hot”（滚烫的）、“sweltering heat”（酷热难耐）、“scorching sun”（烈日炎炎），英文中还有许多有关“酷热难耐”的有趣表达，从中我们也可以了解到一些外国文化。
Dog days of summer
In books and newspaper articles, the period from early July to mid-August is often referred to as the “dog days of summer”. Some think the expression means the weather is so hot that dogs go wild. But in fact, the expression comes from 16th century astrology and refers to the days on which Sirius — the Dog Star, the brightest star in the summer sky and part of the Great Dog constellation — rises at the same time as the sun. The Romans associated the hot weather with this star and would sacrifice a dog every year in April to appease the rage of Sirius.
在书籍和报刊文章中，7月初到8月中旬这段时间通常被称作“dog days of summer”，即中文中的“三伏天”。一些人认为这句表达的意思是“天气太热以至于狗都狂躁了”。而事实上，该表达源于16世纪占星术，指的是夏季里，天空中最亮的大犬座天狼星同太阳同起落的日子。罗马人认为酷热的天气与天狼星有关，所以每年4月份会献上一只狗作为祭品，来平息天狼星的愤怒。
Hotter than a two-dollar pistol
This expression comes from 19th century America, when the US was engulfed in the Civil War and many carried pistols for self-protection. Cheap pistols would get hot when fired repeatedly, but another reason for the expression is that no pistol could cost 2 dollars (12 yuan) unless it had been stolen. In slang English, stolen goods are often said to be “hot” and anyone in possession of hot goods is likely to get their fingers burned, in other words, to be arrested.
So hot you can fry an egg on the sidewalk
This expression needs no explanation and although its origin is unclear, it hasn’t stopped thousands of curious tourists from testing if the saying is true, with the result that sidewalks in Death Valley, California – the hottest place in the US – are now littered with broken eggshells and the gooey remainders of mostly raw eggs. Early in July, the local government issued a plea for tourists to stop their cooking experiments. Even so, it is actually possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk, so long as you use a frying pan with a lid and the temperature is at least 49 C.
Hinges of Hades
For those who believe it exists, hell is undoubtedly the hottest place on earth, so unsurprisingly there are several expressions that refer to hell (Hades), or even the devil himself. “Hotter than the hinges (gates) of Hades” or “Hotter than the hobs (fireplaces) of Hell” are the oldest versions, but more amusing variations have become popular, such as “hotter than the devil’s underwear”.
(Translator & Editor: 21英语 Sherry AND Aaron)