Raining cats and dogs is a peculiar expression from the 17th century with uncertain origins. While we cant be sure who coined the phrase first or what it originally meant, its probably not because the beloved pets fell from the sky.
The phrase isnt literal, and there is no recorded incident of cats and dogs dropping from the clouds like furry rain clumps. Similar phenomena with smaller creatures such as frogs, fish, and spiders have been recorded as they were sucked from lakes and ponds by waterspouts, but cats and dogs are too big to rain.
A few older explanations for the phrase exist, such as the thatched roof theory . Thatch is a type of padding or cover made woven and bound straw, reeds, palm, or similar plant materials. Because of poor town design and flood risks, cats and dogs would drown whenever there was a major storm.
People would see the dead bodies of the animals floating by as if they had dropped from the sky like a proverbial rain of frogs. There are multiple versions of the myths and superstitions from the Viking era and into the medieval times. In some explanation, cats had great influence over storms or weather in general while dogs were a signal in wind.
In a similar explanation, cats were symbols of torrential rains and the dog attendants of the Storm God Odin were gusts of wind. In yet another Norse Pantheon-related description, witches who transformed into cats rode upon the storm to follow Odin and his dog. These dogs, in this case, could refer to Geri and Freki in the Poetic Edda, but the theories are as wild and loose as the storms they describe.
Some of these tales are older than the expression, and even the discussion of where the phrase came from is becoming ancient history. The modern version of raining cats and dogs first appeared in Jonathan Swifts A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation, 1978. In 171030 years before Ingenious Conversationhe wrote a poem named A Description of a City Shower with the following ending lines:
Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud, Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood. In 1653, a similar, older phrase was written in a work called The City Witt by English playwright Richard Brome: Polecats are relative to the weasel and were common critters in Great Britain during Richard Bromes time.
What does raining cats and dogs mean?
“Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard. … So, to say it’s raining “cats and dogs” might be to say it’s raining waterfalls.
Is raining cats and dogs a metaphor?
The statement “It’s raining cats and dogs” is not a metaphor, which is a comparison of two unlike things. Instead, the phrase is an idiom,…
How do you use the phrase raining cats and dogs?
It’s raining cats and dogs. When we were returning from the picnic, it was raining cats and dogs. I think it’s not safe to drive the car now – it’s raining cats and dogs.
As correctly stated, this is a literal phrase dating from 17th century England. Back in the day, peasants used what little land they owned for crops and such, so could not afford to keep cats and dogs on their land. As a result, people used to keep their animals on the thatched roofs of their cottages. When it rained heavily, the thatching became very perilous and slippery, causing the cats and dogs to fall off!
The first printed use of the phrase does date to the 17th centurey, when English playwright Richard Brome wrote in The City Witt ( 1652 ): “It shall rain dogs and polecats.” His use of “polecats” certainly suggests a less literal explination , but no better theory has been offered.
Other conjectures are the the hyperbole comes from a Greek saying, similar in sound, meaning “an unlikely occurrence,” and that the phrase derives from a rare French word, catadoupe (“a waterfall”), which sounds a little like cats and dogs. It could also be that the expression was inspired by the fact that cats and dogs were closely associated witht the rain and wind the Northern mythology, dogs often being pictured as the attendants of Odin the strom god, while cats were believed to cause storms. Similar colloquial expressions include it’s raining pirchforks, darning needles, hammer handles, chicken coops , and men.
We dont 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.
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of CongressSwift also wrote a poem, City Shower (1710), that described floods that occurred after heavy rains.
Its raining cats and dogs is an idiom which means its raining extremely heavily. The origin of the phrase raining cats and dogs is steeped in mystery. There are several theories, one being that the phrase raining cats and dogs references the mythologies of the Norse god Odin and English witches. Odin was depicted as traveling in storms with dogs and wolves, cats were well-known familiars of witches.
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.The first recorded use of a phrase similar to “raining cats and dogs” was in the 1651 collection of poemsIn 1738, Jonathan Swift published his “Complete Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation,” a satire on the conversations of the upper classes. One of his characters fears that it will “rain cats and 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,” to describe the shaft-like appearance of heavy rains. But Swift’s phrase may have been memorable enough to stick in the mind of the public.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 led locals to describe the weather as “raining cats and dogs.”