IELTS Podcast (Ep. 3) | Vocabulary Lesson 3: Weather

Magoosh IELTS Podcast

Vocabulary Lesson 3: Weather

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In this episode of the Magoosh IELTS podcast, your teacher Eliot Friesen explains how to use four words all related to weather: Chilly, Muggy, Balmy, and Sleet.

It’s common for questions about weather and climate to come up during the Speaking section, so we’re going to go over a few good vocab words that you can use to talk about different kinds of weather.

If you like this lesson, please subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher for more IELTS Vocabulary lessons, and check out all of our IELTS Podcast episodes here!

Download the complete list of IELTS Vocabulary words.

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IELTS Podcast – Episode 3 Transcript

(Translations: فارسی, русский, Tiếng Việt, Português)

Welcome to the Magoosh IELTS Vocabulary Podcast. This is Lesson 3. In this episode, we will cover 4 words all related to weather: Chilly, Muggy, Balmy, and Sleet.

Don’t forget to check out our show notes for a link to your free IELTS vocabulary list containing these words and others, and visit for more great resources to improve your IELTS band score.

Let’s get started.

I’d like to introduce you to your teacher, Eliot. He is the Magoosh IELTS expert and, here’s a fun fact about Eliot: Eliot grew up in a part of the U.S. known for tornadoes and had to hide in the basement on more than one occasion.

Eliot Intro

Hello Magoosh IELTS podcast listeners, welcome to today’s show. I’m Eliot, the IELTS expert from Magoosh. Today, we’re going to look at four words that will be useful for the Speaking section of the IELTS. It’s common for questions about weather and climate to come up during the Speaking section, so we’re going to go over a few good vocab words that you can use to talk about different kinds of weather.

As always, make sure to go to the link in the show notes to get the full list of vocabulary words.

The theme for the words in today’s episode is weather, and ways to describe different types of weather.


So let’s get started. The first word on our list is chilly. So let’s start with that one, okay?

Chilly…what does chilly mean?

Well, when describing weather, “chilly” means cold in a way that is uncomfortable. Chilly is similar to the word “cold”. However, we mostly use “chilly” to describe weather, or how weather makes us feel, whereas the word “cold” can be used to describe anything that’s low in temperature.

For example, on the first cold day of autumn, people would probably describe the weather as chilly. They may also describe themselves as chilly, if they happen to get caught outside without a jacket!

On the other hand, the word “cold” can be used to describe a much wider variety of things than the word chilly. When you put your leftover pizza in the refrigerator, the pizza will become cold. But we wouldn’t describe the pizza as chilly. We just use chilly to talk about weather that’s cold enough to make us uncomfortable.

So, that’s chilly.


The next word is muggy.

Okay, “muggy” means very hot and humid. Like chilly, muggy is really only used to describe weather. This makes sense when you think about it, because air is the only thing that can be humid. Humid air is air that has a lot of water vapor in it.  So for weather to be muggy, it would have to not only be hot, but also humid.

Some climates – like the tropics – have a lot of muggy weather, while other climates – like the mountains – will almost never have weather that’s muggy. And don’t forget, humidity is a key part of what makes weather muggy. So weather in a desert climate probably wouldn’t be muggy, because even though deserts get very hot, there typically won’t be much water vapor in the air.

Like chilly weather, muggy weather can make us uncomfortable. Most people dislike muggy weather, because when the air is muggy it can be difficult to stay cool, and you get very sticky.

So that’s muggy.


The next word is balmy.

Finally some good weather! Balmy means a comfortable outdoor temperature, not too hot and not too cold, usually with some gentle wind. We could also describe balmy weather as mild, or temperate.

Although balmy weather isn’t too hot, it’s still warm. Just think of what it’s like on a really nice day summer day, when it’s not too hot, but you don’t have to wear a jacket.

It’s no surprise that balmy weather is something that most people enjoy. For example, a lot of people choose to vacation in places where the weather is balmy, so they can enjoy spending time outside. Balmy weather is pleasant and warm, but not too hot.

So that’s balmy.


The final word today is sleet.

So far, all of our words in this episode have been adjectives. Adjectives are words that describe something. In this case, we have been describing weather, by talking about the weather’s temperature and how it makes us feel. Sleet is different, because sleet is a noun, meaning it’s a thing rather than a description.

Sleet is a mix of snow and rain, falling together from the sky. Sleet is similar to frozen rain (which we call hail). However, sleet is not completely frozen, so it’s not solid like hail. Just imagine snow mixed with water. It’s very wet, icy snow, raining down.

You wouldn’t want to get caught outside without an umbrella and a warm coat when there’s sleet coming down. Many people also try to avoid driving their cars when sleet has been falling, because sleet can make roads icy.

So that’s sleet

Great! In this episode you learned 4 words related to weather – for more words, download the full list of vocabulary in the show notes and tune in to the next episode.


If you like our show, help us out by leaving a rating and review in iTunes and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. Until next time! This is Naomi at Magoosh wishing you happy studying.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


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