Cloud Shapes: What Do You See?

By Heidi Stonehill
Jul 20, 2017

White clouds with the feeling they may swallow you up

Clyde Swaim


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There’s just something about a cloud, how it floats across the sky and constantly changes shape and size and color, drawing your eyes upward to watch, even for the briefest moment during a busy day.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s …?

Sometimes you can find recognizable shapes in clouds, such as a sailboat, a spear of broccoli, or even a Tyrannosaurus rex. The term for this leisurely sleuthing activity is nephelococcygia, which is a word that comes from the Greek nephelo, meaning clouds, and kokkyx, meaning cuckoo. The word was first used in the play The Birds, written in 414 B.C. by Greek comic poet Aristophanes. Nephelo-Coccygia was a utopian town in the clouds built by birds—in essence, “cloud cuckoo land.”

To celebrate this popular pastime, we thought that it might be fun to post an interestingly shaped cloud every so often and invite our readers to tell us what shapes they see.

How about the photos above? Can you spot a familiar form? Please post your thoughts below.

Thank you, and happy cloud watching!

If you enjoyed this, have fun with our next post, “Cloud Shapes 2: What do you see?”

About This Blog

Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments.

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Kinda looks like...

It reminds me of an illustration I saw in a children's book, called "the Ugly Duckling", of the ugly duckling finding its family. Ah the nostalgia...

I see a Poodle

I'd forgotten all about the times I laid in the grass as a child and looked for images in the clouds. :)

I see a duck. My Dad was

I see a duck.
My Dad was really good at this. He grew up without televison, running water or electricty. His ability to forcast the weather, just by looking at the clouds, was amazing.

A duck looking up at the sky.

A duck looking up at the sky.

A duck

A duck

This will be fun! As a child

This will be fun! As a child I used to lay in the grass and find images in clouds.....great exercise for children to build imagine.


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