Summer comes from the ancient root sem, meaning “summer” in Proto-Indo-European (an ancient language that was spoken several thousand years ago and is the ancestor to Sanskrit and to most European languages).

Related words for summer in other languages include samhradh (Gaelic), sommer (German, Danish), sommar (Swedish) and zomer (Dutch).

Part of speech

The word summer can be used

  • as a noun: The play will debut in summer.
  • as a verb: When I was young, my family summered at the cottage.
  • as a modifier: Enroll your child in a summer camp.

Capitalization rules

You should capitalize the word summer

  • when it is the first word in a sentence: Summer is here!
  • when it is personified: “We will muse on Summer’s ploys” —Charles Mair
  • when it is part of a title: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
  • when it is part of a proper noun: The Summer Palace is in Beijing.

Always lowercase the word summer when it is used as a common noun:

  • We are spending the summer at the cottage.

Phrases and expressions related to summer

dog days of summer
the hottest days of the summer season, occurring in July and August in the northern hemisphere; so named because ancient peoples connected this weather with Sirius, the Dog Star (the brightest star in the night sky), in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog
Indian summer
a period of unusually dry, warm weather in mid-fall (especially October or November); formerly called St. Martin’s summer in England
Midsummer Day
the feast of St. John the Baptist on June 24; formerly one of the four official quarter days that divided the English year into quarters (The others were Lady Day, March 25; Michaelmas, September 29; and Christmas, December 25.)
pass like a summer cloud; be fleeting as a summer cloud
pass quickly
summer solstice
the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, occurring around June 21 in the northern hemisphere
Summer Triangle
a triangle formed by the bright stars Altair, Deneb and Vega; seen overhead at midnight during summer in the northern hemisphere

English proverb

One swallow doesn’t make a summer.
One good event doesn’t guarantee a continuing trend.

Canadian quotation

“When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ’We are going to have a summer shower.’” —Sir John A. Macdonald

Our first prime minister’s colourful way of telling us to make lemonade out of life’s lemons!

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