rain cats and dogs: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rain cats and dogs’ mean?

The idiom "rain cats and dogs" means heavy or torrential rain.

Idiom Explorer

Strange Origins

One of the most well-known idioms in the English language is "rain cats and dogs." This idiom is used to describe a heavy and intense rainfall.

The origin of the idiom "rain cats and dogs" is uncertain. There are several theories regarding its etymology, but none of them have been proven conclusively. However, it is generally agreed upon that the idiom has been in use since at least the 17th century.

One theory suggests that the idiom may have originated from the Old English word "catadupe," which means "waterfall." This theory postulates that "catadupe" evolved into "cat and dog" and eventually became "cats and dogs." However, this theory lacks substantial evidence.

Another possibility is that the idiom is a corruption of the Greek phrase "cata doxa," which means "contrary to experience or belief." This theory speculates that the phrase was misheard or misinterpreted, leading to the creation of "rain cats and dogs." However, there is no concrete evidence to support this hypothesis either.

Despite the lack of a definitive origin, the idiom "rain cats and dogs" is widely used and recognized by English speakers. It has become an integral part of the language, serving as a vivid expression to describe heavy rainfall.

The idiom might also be linked to Norse mythology. In Norse mythology, dogs were associated with Odin, the god of storms, and cats were associated with Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, who traveled in a chariot pulled by two large cats. This theory suggests that the phrase "rain cats and dogs" may have originated from these mythological representations.

Cats and dogs frolic in the rain.

While the specific origins remain elusive, the meaning of the idiom is clear. When someone says, "It's raining cats and dogs," they mean that it's pouring rain heavily.

It should be noted that the idiom is not meant to be taken literally. No one expects actual cats and dogs to fall from the sky during a storm. Rather, it is a figurative expression used to describe the severity of the rain.

The idiom "rain cats and dogs" is deeply ingrained in the English language, capturing the attention and fascination of both native speakers and learners.

With such a unique and enigmatic origin, it's no wonder that the idiom continues to be a popular expression.

The idiom "rain down" is closely related to "rain cats and dogs." It is used to describe a heavy and sudden rainfall. The phrase creates the image of rain falling with force and intensity, as if it is cascading down from the sky.

When someone says, "It's raining down," they are emphasizing the torrential nature of the rainfall. The phrase conveys a sense of awe and spectacle, as if the rain is forcefully descending upon the earth.

Both "rain cats and dogs" and "rain down" are vivid expressions that effectively communicate the intensity of heavy rainfall. They paint a picture of rain that is powerful, overwhelming, and at times, even chaotic.

So the next time you find yourself caught in a downpour, remember these idiom expressions and appreciate the rich history and linguistic power behind these quirky expressions.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "rain cats and dogs" can be used in a sentence:

  1. It was raining cats and dogs outside, so I decided to stay indoors.
  2. She forgot her umbrella and got caught in a sudden rainstorm that was raining cats and dogs.
  3. When I woke up this morning, it was raining cats and dogs, so I had to cancel my plans for a picnic.

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