What Does Raining Cats and Canine Imply? Origins of the Phrase


Final Up to date on: August 9, 2023 by Crystal Uys

very heavy rain in the backyard

The phrase “raining cats and canines” is a standard expression used to explain heavy rain or a sudden downpour. Whereas the phrase’s which means is well-known, its origins are much less clear. Many theories recommend the place the phrase got here from, starting from sensible to legendary.

Some recommend the phrase originated from the poor drainage techniques in Seventeenth-century Europe. In the meantime, others imagine that it could have its roots in Norse mythology. One other idea suggests the phrase was a French phrase misheard by English audio system.

Whereas there’s no definitive reply, analyzing these theories can inform us how the phrase has developed. Let’s discover the assorted theories concerning the origins of the phrase “raining cats and canines.”

What Does “Raining Cats and Canine” Imply?

In trendy utilization, the idiom “raining cats and canines” is usually used to explain very heavy rain. It typically has the connotation that the rain is sudden or sudden. For instance, somebody may say, “I used to be going to take a stroll, however it’s raining cats and canines on the market.”

The phrase also can describe different issues coming down closely or in massive portions. As an illustration, somebody may say, “The leaves are falling prefer it’s raining cats and canines.” That will describe a very heavy autumnal leaf fall.

Alternatively, they might say, “My inbox is filled with emails; it’s raining cats and canines in right here.” It could describe an amazing variety of incoming messages.

General, “raining cats and canines” is a standard and versatile idiom used to explain heavy rain. It could additionally outline different issues coming down closely, in massive portions, or in a chaotic or disorderly scenario.

heavy rain outdoors in the garden
Picture Credit score: chulmin1700, Pixabay

Origin of “Raining Cats and Canine”

The origin of the idiom “raining cats and canines” is unsure. It has been a subject of a lot hypothesis and debate amongst language specialists for hundreds of years. Whereas the true origin of the phrase is unknown, a number of theories element the way it could have come to be.

Listed below are some cultural and historic references that assist present context for its use. Additionally they make clear the assorted associations and meanings the phrase has acquired over time.

Medieval Europe

It’s believed that “raining cats and canines” got here from medieval Europe, the place folks constructed their houses with thatched straw roofs. Thatched roofs had been standard as they had been straightforward to assemble and supplied good insulation. However, throughout heavy rain, the straw would overwhelm the roof, inflicting it to break down.

Small animals, like cats and canines, would typically conceal within the rafters of those roofs to flee the rain. When the roof would collapse throughout a heavy rainstorm, the animals would fall from the roof. This sudden sight throughout heavy rain might need led folks to say it was “raining cats and canines.”

Whereas there isn’t sufficient proof to assist this idea, it’s standard amongst language specialists. So, it’s typically instructed as a doable origin of the phrase. The idea has some historic benefit, as thatched roofs had been widespread in medieval Europe.

These roofs typically collapsed throughout heavy rain within the medieval period. Moreover, cats and canines lived as pets and might need sought shelter within the rafters throughout a storm.

Norse Mythology

One other “raining cats and canines” idea suggests it got here from Norse mythology. In Norse mythology, cats and canines had been related to storms and dangerous climate. The Norse god Odin owned a pair of cats he despatched into the clouds to battle with Thor, the god of thunder.

The cats would claw on the clouds and make them launch their rain, resulting in the idea that cats brought about rain. So, the phrase described the concept that throughout heavy rainstorms, these mythological creatures had been combating within the clouds and inflicting the rain to fall extra closely.

Whereas there may be little to no proof to assist this idea, it serves as a doable origin of the phrase.

heavy rain in the streets
Picture Credit score: Benfe, Pixabay

French Phrase “Catadoupe”

One other idea means that it could have originated from the French phrase “catadoupe.” In French, “catadoupe” means waterfall or cataract. This phrase could have entered England throughout the Norman Conquest of 1066 when French grew to become the language of the English courtroom.

When spoken rapidly or with a regional accent, “catadoupe” could sound like “cats and canines.” The phrase was presumably misheard and repeated by English audio system. Ultimately, it grew to become the English expression “raining cats and canines.”

Whereas little proof helps this idea, it’s a believable rationalization. The truth that many individuals spoke French in England throughout the Center Ages makes it plausible. The similarity between “catadoupe” and “cats and canines” additionally provides to its plausibility.

Greek Expression

One other idea means that it could have come from the Greek expression “cata doxa.” In Greek, “cata doxa” means “opposite to expertise or perception.” This expression was used to explain conditions that had been sudden or opposite to what one may count on.

“Raining cats and canines” describes an uncommon and sudden scenario that appears opposite to perception. If it was raining so arduous that it appeared not possible, folks may say it was “raining cats and canines.”

The truth that “cata doxa” and “cats and canines” sound related may have contributed to its evolution. However no clear proof means that the phrase was borrowed from Greek.

Jonathan Swift’s Poem

One idea suggests the phrase refers to poor drainage techniques on buildings in Seventeenth-century Europe. Throughout heavy rain, the drains on buildings may develop into clogged with particles and different supplies. Because of this, they’d overflow and disgorge their contents onto the streets beneath.

This might embrace the corpses of any animals gathered within the drains. It was a grim and ugly sight for onlookers.

This idea is referenced in Jonathan Swift’s 1710 poem “Description of a Metropolis Bathe.” Swift describes a heavy London rain that sends disagreeable gadgets together with the flood. That features “drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud, lifeless cats and turnip-tops.”

“Raining cats and canines” describes an disagreeable and sudden sight. So, it’s in line with the concept that it originated from seeing animal corpses and different particles throughout heavy rain.

a woman and a child standing by the streets while raining
Picture Credit score: JumpStory

European Folklore

One doable reference is the affiliation of cats and canines with witches and their familiars in European folklore. In the course of the Center Ages, cats and canines had been typically portrayed as companions of witches. The animals had been additionally believed to have magical powers.

Thus, the concept of cats and canines falling from the sky throughout heavy rain could have been seen as a supernatural prevalence. It was believed that these witches may management the climate. Folks additionally thought they could use their powers to make it rain cats and canines as a type of punishment or to trigger chaos.

The affiliation of those animals with witches dates again to the medieval interval. Cats had been additionally thought to speak with spirits and shape-shift into different animals. Equally, canines had been thought of to have the facility to detect and chase away evil spirits.

The phrase could have served as a warning of impending hazard or an indication of dangerous luck.

Animal Welfare within the 18th Century

One other reference is the affiliation of cats and canines with animal welfare within the 1800s. Throughout this era, there have been issues concerning the therapy of cats and canines in city areas. The animals had been typically uncared for or mistreated in these areas.

The phrase could have been used to draw consideration to the plight of those animals. It additionally presumably inspired folks to be extra aware of their welfare.

Nonsensical Phrase

There are various theories on the origin of the phrase “raining cats and canines.” But it surely’s additionally doable that there isn’t a clear or logical rationalization for its origin. It could possibly be a nonsensical phrase used for its humorous or exaggerated impact.

It may have described significantly heavy rainfall with none underlying metaphor or symbolism. It resembles different English expressions for heavy rain, like “raining pitchforks” or “raining hammer handles.” These expressions convey the depth of a storm with none deeper which means.

It’s additionally doable that the phrase developed from many various origins and influences. As with many points of language and tradition, the phrase’s origins could have been misplaced or forgotten. New interpretations and meanings emerged because the phrases had been handed down by way of generations.

In the end, the precise origin of the phrase “raining cats and canines” could stay a thriller.


“Raining cats and canines” is a well known expression used to explain heavy rain or a sudden downpour. Regardless of its widespread use, the phrase’s origins stay mysterious. There have been a number of totally different theories proposed through the years.

No matter its origin, its reputation highlights how language and tradition evolve. From historical myths to sensible concerns, the phrase has been formed by quite a few cultural and historic influences.

Featured Picture Credit score: sirtravelalot, Shutterstock

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