rain buckets: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rain buckets’ mean?

The idiom "rain buckets" means to rain heavily or pour down. It can be used both literally, describing heavy rainfall, and figuratively, to describe a situation with a large amount of something.

Idiom Explorer


The idiom "rain buckets" is a commonly used expression in American English, typically used to describe heavy or excessive rainfall. The phrase "rain buckets" is thought to have originated from the literal image of rain falling heavily and collecting in buckets or pails.

The meaning of "rain buckets" is straightforward and its usage is fairly intuitive. When someone says that it is "raining buckets," they are emphasizing the intensity or volume of rainfall in a particular moment or event.

One possible interpretation of the idiom is that it conveys a sense of exaggeration or emphasis on the amount of rain. Just as buckets are devices used to collect and hold water, when it is said to be "raining buckets," it emphasizes the idea of rain pouring down intensely, as if buckets of water were being poured from the sky.

The idiom "rain buckets" is commonly used in various contexts, including weather reports, personal anecdotes, and fictional literature. It is frequently employed to vividly describe the weather conditions or to emphasize the impact of rain on a particular situation or setting.

As with many idioms, the meaning of "rain buckets" may vary depending on the context in which it is used. While it typically refers to heavy rainfall, it can also imply a sense of unpredictability or suddenness.

The buckets filled quickly in the downpour of rain.

For example, if someone says, "It was supposed to be a sunny day, but it rained buckets," they are expressing surprise or disbelief about the unexpected turn of weather events.

The phrase "rain down" is also a related idiom that can be used to describe heavy or intense rainfall. When something is said to "rain down," it means that it is falling or descending rapidly and heavily, often in a metaphorical sense.

Similar to "rain buckets," the idiom "rain down" can be used to emphasize the intensity or volume of something. It is often used to describe a sudden rush or overwhelming amount of something.

For example, in a conversation about news coverage of a controversial event, one might say, "The criticism rained down on the reporter after the article was published." This implies that the reporter faced a significant amount of negative feedback or criticism.

The idiom "rain buckets" is a figurative expression used to emphasize heavy or excessive rainfall. Its origin is uncertain, but it is thought to have been in use for an extended period.

The vivid imagery of buckets filling rapidly with rainwater enhances the impact of the expression. Additionally, the related idiom "rain down" can also be used to describe a rapid and heavy descent or accumulation of something.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "rain buckets" can be used in a sentence:

  1. It has been raining buckets all day, so we decided to stay indoors.
  2. She opened her umbrella, but it was still raining buckets and she ended up soaked.
  3. The storm was intense, and it rained buckets causing flooding in some areas.

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