Photo by Max Chen

Smog is a wonderful word. Not used nearly enough, I’d say.

There are a number of personages in my life who have started using the term inversion. The people I know who use this word aren’t even meteorologists.

Inversion is a meteorological term meaning the atmosphere is layered. Certain portions of the layers are warm, others cold, and the layers don’t mingle so there’s no movement. When there’s no movement, all of the pollutants we humans produce stick around right here where we live. The term to refer to this layered, non-mixing atmosphere is inversion.

Inversion, sure. It means what it means, though. It doesn’t mean the stuff that collects when the inversion happens, even though the people who I’ve heard using the word lately are using it as if it means the smog.

Why would anyone in their right mind trade in a great word like smog for a technical term with only meteorological uses?

So you’re aware, smog isn’t only one word, it’s two smashed together.

Smoke + Fog.

Smoky fog? Like fog, only smoke? Smog.

The word smog pops up in poems and music. Poets and musicians get it. The word smog brings to life the imagery of sickly yellow air, careless industries pumping pollutants into the sky, and dystopic environments. It has the poetic qualities other words do not, even though some of the other words a person might use to define bad air have potential, such as: gauze, haze, or soup. But these words could be too light-hearted and fun, depending on how they’re used.

Despite the abhorrent way I feel about the actual substance of smog, the word is still my favorite way to label the stuff.

I’d take smog over inversion every time.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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