Have you ever been caught in dense fog? Tim Bowen gets meteorological.

Although fog may not be as common in the UK as it once was, it is still a type of weather that is a regular topic of conversation and there are various words that collocate with it to describe its appearance or effect. Fog can be thick, dense or impenetrable, as in ‘The fog was so thick, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face’. If it moves around, it is swirling fog, as in ‘The mist around the town had thickened into a dense, swirling fog that drifted across the surrounding countryside’.

Persistent fog continues for a long period of time, as in ‘Persistent fog can be a maritime hazard in the summer months around the coast of Britain’. Fog that occurs in some places but not in others is patchy fog. The same adjective can be used with rain and mist.

When fog appears, it descends or rolls in, as in ‘A thick fog rolled in from the sea’, and when it disappears, it clears or lifts, as in ‘By mid-morning the sun was getting warmer and most of the fog had lifted’. Fog that stays for a long time lingers, as in ‘Fog lingered all morning along the river’.

A set of nouns also collocate with fog to indicate its appearance and consistency. The most common of these are a bank of fog, meaning a large mass of fog often experienced at sea, a blanket of fog, meaning a thick layer that completely covers an area, and a patch of fog, meaning a small amount occurring in one place but not in others. All three nouns can also be used with cloud.