Archive for March 25th, 2011

March 25, 2011

Raining cats and dogs

It's raining cats and dogs, pic:

It has been raining very heavily for days without end in sight – so the old idiom “it is raining cats and dogs” came to my mind.  It means just that: very heavy and persistent rain.

I hardly ever use this idiom because I thought that it  is an old-fashioned expression and that nobody used it anymore and likely people wouldn’t even understand it anymore.  The first is true, the latter not necessarily as was proven to me the other day when my 6-year old said:  “Mama, it is raining cats and dogs!”

“Where did you get that expression?” I asked

“In school, from a book” he answered  – so obviously the idiom is still widely enough used to make it into kids’ school books.

The origin of the phrase is unknown and – as usual in some cases – a number of theories have been put forward.  One explanation that has some credibility as there is a documented source is that in England of the 17th century sewage and drainage systems weren’t very efficient and so when heavy downpours happened the streets were turned into rivers of doubtful water quality carrying with it all sorts of things, including the corpses of drowned cats and dogs.

Here is the reference: Jonathan Swift’s 1710 poem ‘Description of a City Shower’, in which he describes “Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,/Dead cats and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood.”

This might or might not be the explanation but somehow it doesn’t matter.  I just wish it would stop raining cats and dogs.