If you’ve ever heard someone say “it’s raining cats and dogs outside” and felt confused, you’re not alone. I mean, who’s ever seen cats and dogs falling from the sky? Hopefully no one. So where does this colorful expression come from?
In all honesty, no one really knows. Some linguists and historians think that it may come from the Greek cata doxa, which sounds like “cats and and dogs”, but actually means “contrary to belief.” In other words, saying that it’s “raining cats and dogs” means that it’s just raining unbelievably hard.
Another theory is that “cats and dogs” is a mutated version of the dead word “catadupe.” In Old English, it meant waterfall. So when you say “it’s raining cats and dogs”, you mean that it’s raining so hard it’s like a waterfall outside.
Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t any evidence that suggests that “it’s raining cats and dogs” actually has anything to do with cats or dogs. Some say that the expression appeared because animals would hide beneath roofs or get washed away in torrential downpours, but there isn’t any historical or scientific evidence that would support that claim.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s another strange expression connected with the rain—”when it rains, it pours.” Oddly enough, this expression as nothing to do with the weather. Instead, it means that when something bad happens, usually more bad things follow. For example, The Green Party did badly in the recent election and now three of its leading politicians are leaving the party. When it rains, it pours. The expression also gained popularity through the Morton Salt company who uses it as their motto. When exposed to water or humidity, salt used to become sticky and clump into balls, but not Morton salt—when it rained, Morton salt could still pour out of the container.
What other strange idioms connected with the weather can you think of?
Colorful – interesting or exciting
Linguist – someone who studies languages
Historian – someone who studies history
Contrary – opposite to
contrary to popular belief – the opposite of what most people think
evidence – something that shows that something exists or is true
torrential downpour – extremely heavy rainfall
claim – a statement saying that something happened in a certain way
oddly enough – to say something is odd, strange, or surprising
PS Did you know that North Carolina is the rainiest state in the US?