Question What is the origin of the phrase "it's raining cats & dogs?"


We don’t know. The phrase might have its roots in Norse mythology, medieval superstitions, the obsolete word catadupe (waterfall), or dead animals in the streets of Britain being picked up by storm waters.

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Very unpleasant weather.  George Cruikshank, 18đôi mươi. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, National Gallery of Art

The first recorded use of a phrase similar lớn “raining cats and dogs” was in the 1651 collection of poems Olor Iscanus. British poet Henry Vaughan referred to lớn a roof that was secure against “dogs and cats rained in shower.” One year later, Richard Brome, an English playwright, wrote in his comedy City Witt, “It shall rain dogs & polecats.” (Polecats are related khổng lồ the weasel & were common in Great Britain through the over of the nineteenth century.)

Portrait of Jonathan Swift. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

In 1738, Jonathan Swift published his “Complete Collection of Genteel & Ingenious Conversation,” a satire on the conversations of the upper classes. One of his characters fears that it will “rain cats và dogs.” Whether Swift coined the phrase or was using a cliché, his satire was likely the beginning of the phrase’s popularity. Other British writers have employed less popular phrases, such as “it’s raining pitchforks” or “it’s raining stair-rods,” khổng lồ describe the shaft-like appearance of heavy rains. But Swift’s phrase may have sầu been memorable enough to stick in the mind of the public.

Puppies under an umbrella. 1914. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Swift also wrote a poem, “City Shower” (1710), that described floods that occurred after heavy rains. The floods left dead animals in the streets, and may have sầu led iiwallpapers.comals lớn describe the weather as “raining cats & dogs.”

Honorable Mr. Cat. Helen Hyde, 1903. Prints và Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Why “cats and dogs”?

Again, we don’t know for certain.

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Etymologists—people who study the origins of words—have suggested a variety of mythological and literal explanations for why people say “it’s raining cats và dogs” lớn describe a heavy downpour. Here are some of the popular theories:

Odin, the Norse god of storms, was often pictured with dogs & wolves, which were symbols of wind. Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors. Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer khổng lồ a storm with wind (dogs) và heavy rain (cats). “Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats & dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard. “Cats and dogs” may be a perversion of the now obsolete word catadupe. In old English, catadupe meant a cataract or waterfall. A version of catadupe existed in many old languages.In Latin, for example, catadupa was borrowed from the classical Greek κατάδουποι, which referred to the cataracts of the Nile River. So, khổng lồ say it’s raining “cats và dogs” might be khổng lồ say it’s raining waterfalls. A false theory stated that cats và dogs used lớn cuddle inkhổng lồ thatch roofs during storms & then be washed out during heavy rains. However, a properly maintained thatch roof is naturally water resistant and slanted lớn allow water to lớn run off. In order lớn slip off the roof, the animals would have sầu khổng lồ be lying on the outside—an unlikely place for an animal to seek shelter during a storm.
Dog: You certainly have sầu an advantage. Goat: Why so? Dog: Why, the summer showers don’t take the curl out of your horns. E. Warde Blaisdell, c. 1903. Prints và Photographs Division, Library of Congress.