Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Raining Cats and Dogs: A Curious Expression!

Some of the more frequently used expressions in the English language have always been a source of interest to me. I get a kick out of how some of them have evolved over the years.


The expression, "raining cats and dogs.", is one of course, that sparked my interest. My imagination could run away with me when I envision how this might appear. But I have to say that I am really not happy with the picture that comes to mind.  I mean, the thought of huge numbers of kitties and doggies falling from the sky,  just does not float my boat. So naturally I was compelled to research what might be the source of such an odd, but common weather-related description of a heavy rainstorm.


One of the most common ones I found was related to how, in times of yore, many houses of the period were constructed with thatched roofs in which domesticated cats and dogs would take shelter.

If the rain was sufficiently heavy, the animals might have been washed out of the thatch or take shelter quickly in another more suitable place so, if one stretched the imagination, it could appear that it was, in fact, raining cats and dogs.

Another possibility could be attributed to when, way back in history,  the streets of British towns were poorly constructed and as a result in a heavy downpour, the poor cats and dogs who were living in the street could easily drown, with their bodies floating down the street appearing as if they had actually fallen from the sky, similar to the "rain of frogs." .

If your curiosity has been aroused, you can read more about the etiology of this very common expression by visiting Raining Cats and Dogs written by Michael Quinion

What do you think about when someone describes rainy weather by using this expression? Leave a comment and let us know.


Vicki said...

I hve never thought about where the expression came from, but have heard it all my life. Whenever I have heard the term "It's raining cats and dogs", I think of the weather as raining very hard, not just a gentle sprinkle from the sky. Hmm, that's one to think about!

Anonymous said...

I've ALWAYS wondered about that phrase also... Things like "Hungry as a horse..." I've known a LOT of horses who were/are very picky.

pamie said...

AH HA...AT LAST...and explanation!

It is so much fun to read your column...I just get a real kick out of all the neat stuff you seem
to pull out of thin air..

It is so enjoyable to read how these phrases came about and have been passed down...

Anonymous said...

Since you're into these curious expressions, how did the cat get nine (9) lives?
You do have a very nice column here and it always brings a smile to my face whenever I read another story you've written. Please keep up the excellent writtings as they are very much enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Its always "raining cats and dogs" here! I have 6 cats and three dogs which get along just fine. Matter of fact my three youngest sisters (Pathces,Ginger and Sandy) always look for my largest dog (Luger) to sleep with.

PerfectTosca said...

Three cats and one henkpecked Collie here.

I am glad it doesn't really rain cats and dogs, as I would be taking them all in!