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6 Jan. “It’s raining cats and dogs”. What does this expression mean?

“It’s raining cats and dogs” is an expression in English which although amusing is now rather old-fashioned and is not used often. It does not in fact relate to the well-known animosity between cats and dogs. Rather, it relates to the weather.


The expression is used to denote a downpour which comes on quickly and heavily.


There is no definitive origin of the expression “it’s raining cats and dogs”. There are, however, several suggestions relating to the derivation of the expression. The first dates back to England in the 17th century when heavy rain would often carry dead animals and other debris down streets. Although these animals did not fall from the sky in the same way as rain it is suggested that the sight of dead cats and dogs floating in storm water resulted in the coining of this expression.

Another suggestion relates to Norse Mythology as Odin, the god of storms was often pictured with wolves and dogs who were said to represent wind whilst witches often took the form of cats and were side to “ride on the wind”. Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).

The expression may derive from the Greek expression “cata doxa”, which means “contrary to experience or belief”, and therefore it would relate to the fact that it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.


We find the first example of the use of the expression “it’s raining cats and dogs”, in poet Jonathan Swift’s A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation in 1738 where he writes, “I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs.”

We hope that the weather will mean that you will not need to use this expression too often!

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