From the novel The Spirit of the Place by Samuel Shem:

Selma stared at him. He saw a cloud pass across her gaze. She sighed. "Orville-doll, there's nothing else but this."

What does "a cloud pass across her gaze" mean?

1 Answer 1


This phrase is a less-common variant of a common metaphor which uses cloudy weather to represent negative emotion visible in a person's face. Here are some dictionary sources to demonstrate some other variants of this metaphor:

If a person's face clouds over, they suddenly look unhappy or worried:
At the mention of her dead husband, her face clouded over.

-- Cambridge Dictionary, cloud over, meaning 2

Used to refer to a state or cause of gloom, suspicion, trouble, or worry.
‘the only cloud on the immediate horizon is raising a mortgage’

A frowning or depressed look.
‘a cloud passed over Jessica's face’

-- Lexico, cloud, meaning 2

If your eyes or face cloud or if sadness or anger clouds them, your eyes or your face suddenly show sadness or anger.
Trish's face clouded with disappointment.
As he looked at Katherine, great sorrow clouded his eyes.

-- Collins Dictionary, cloud, meaning 6

  • 2
    My feeling is that the metaphor is for a cloud passing in front of the Sun. Suddenly it gets darker and colder for a moment.
    – Dronir
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 14:27

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