It's raining cats and dogs:
Old fashioned British saying
This phrase means that it is raining very heavily. However this phrase is very old fashioned and today almost nobody uses it in the UK, however it can still be found in use in the US. More normally we would say, it's pouring with rain, it's pelting with rain, it's pelting down, it's chucking it down, it's bucketing with rain or even in vulgar slang, it's pissing with rain.
There are a wide variety of explanations as to the origin of this phrase, but there is no definitive answer to the question. I think probably the most plausible is the appearance of large numbers of drowned stray cats and dogs after flooding in Mediaeval times. This might give the appearance that it had rained cats and dogs. Another explanation argues that in Viking mythology the dog represented the rain and the cat represented the wind, so maybe it is possible that the origins of this phrase are Norse.
Click here to return to Vocabulary A-Z
Hi. R is for raining cats and dogs. I think a lot of you already know this phrase. It means to rain a lot. However there in one important thing to remember. This phrase is obsolete. No English person uses this phrase any more. OK. So you may understand it, but you can't use it. So, what do you say? I would say it's pouring with rain. To pour water... glug glug glug. It's pouring with rain. Or more colloquially, it's pissing with rain. Ahhh, it's pissing out there. Yes, but raining cats and dogs no. So, while I'm here, they say that the origin of this phrase was that in the past perhaps when it rained a lot, there were lots of stray dogs and cats, and if there was a flood, the water went up, lots of these dogs and cats drowned, and after the rain it looked like it had been raining cats and dogs. I don't know if that's true, but it's a good story. So, R is for raining cats and dogs. Don't use it. Bye for now.