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Question What is the origin of the phrase "it's raining cats and 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, 1820. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, National Gallery of Art

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

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

In 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 & 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-lượt thích appearance of heavy rains. But Swift’s phrase may have sầu been memorable enough to lớn stiông chồng in the mind of the public.

Puppies under an umbrella. 1914. Prints và 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, và may have led vuialo.netals to describe the weather as “raining cats và dogs.”

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

Why “cats & 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 and dogs” to 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 blachồng cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors. Therefore, “raining cats và dogs” may refer to lớn a storm with wind (dogs) and 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 to lớn say it’s raining waterfalls. A false theory stated that cats và dogs used to 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 run off. In order to slip off the roof, the animals would have to be lying on the outside—an unlikely place for an animal to seek shelter during a storm.
Dog: You certainly have 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.