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       Where did the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” come from?
       

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   Literature and Language

Where did the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” come from?

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   Asked by Kitty Schaden
   
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Eve Ryan

January 30, 2020 9:40PM

   This strange, somewhat surrealist phrase has a contested origin. It dates back to at least 1651, and it might have to do with dogs and cats symbolizing wind and rain, respectively, in different mythologies. Another possibility is that it’s a mangled form of obsolete words, either the Greek cata doxa (meaning “contrary to experience or belief”), or the old English catadupe (“waterfall”).

   None of those explanations have conclusive evidence to support them, but they’re all plausible. One theory that’s been totally busted, however, is the idea that cats and dogs would huddle in thatch roofs during storms, and the rain would wash them out. For that to happen, the animals would have to be on the outside of the roof, which doesn’t track.
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Hugh Durden

February 13, 2020 7:10AM

   I have no reason to support the idea that cats and dogs would take shelter in a thatched roof and, if the rain got hard enough, they could be washed out, leading to a lot of rain being referred to as "raining cats and dogs." But if you're thinking that this would require the cats and dogs to be ON TOP of the roof, you aren't picturing a thatched roof. A thatched roof is made of layers of rushes, reeds harvested from marshy land, laid over the rafters(?) in rows with the rushes tied in bundles. When the roof is completely covered in bundles of reeds, they cover it again with bundles of reeds. It isn't like a modern roof, a flat layer of thin shingles over a thin layer of felt; the thatching on a thatched roof would be a foot or more thick... and not as waterproof as you might think. But the thickness of the layers of thatch and the steep pitch of typical roofs allowed the water to run off the roof before it could rain into the house. If you picture such a roof in a rainstorm and, in your
   mind's eye, zoom in to a single drop of rain falling onto the roof, you will see it splash on a reed in the top layer of thatching. Some of it runs down that particular reed to the next one and on out of your sight. But part of that drop, and part of all the others striking that roof, ever, goes into the little valley where one reed meets its neighboring reed, and some of THAT water will leak through the very top layer of reeds, or thatching, to be intercepted by the next layer down and, mostly, diverted down toward the eaves and beyond the footprint of the house, as intended. But some of it will leak down through to the next layer, and so on. You can see why, if you're going to make a roof out of a bunch of skinny straws jammed up against each other and held in place by string, you would lay them on kind of thick. Over time the roof would become quite the ecosystem, too, with lots of things living there. Basically every pest you would want to keep out of your house and lots of the the
   things that eat the pests and some of the things that eat the things that eat the pests would wind up living in, not on, the roof, making dens and pathways in the roof. This is another reason to make the roof extra thick, so it can keep keeping the rain out when half of it has been compromised by rodents building superhighways through it. Of course, this roof is completely organic, so it's essentially compost. The rushes don't break down as quickly as lawn clippings by a long shot, but the process is the same over a 10- or 20-year span. So eventually you're sitting at your kitchen table, having a nice cuppa, and it's raining, of course, because it's always raining in Britain and Western Europe and that's where your thatched roof is so that's where your house is because it needs a roof, and it's about to need another one, because after 20 years the thatch really is compost, which is not a good construction material. In addition, today it is raining really hard so tons of water are falling on
   the roof every few minutes and all the beast and beasties that know enough to come in out of the rain, the insects and spiders and lizards and birds and mice and rats and yard cats and the dog you won't let in the house because he is so muddy, they all have retreated into the roof. Not on, in. When the roof fails in the downpour it goes from drips to streams to sagging to colllapsing in a hurry, and along with the water flooding down into your kitchen comes quite a lot of wildlife. I suppose you could tell the neighbors that it was raining rats and lizards in your house, but that might reflect badly on you. Better, and just as truthful, to say it was raining cats and dogs.
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Jabree Stanley

February 10, 2020 8:10PM

   I know right!😒

Related Questions

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Is raining cats and dogs a simile or a hyperbole which is an exaggeration?

   
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   The phrase "it's raining cats and dogs!" is hyperbole.

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What is a sentence on raining cats and dogs?

   
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How do you know when it is raining cats and dogs?

   
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Is 'its raining cats and dogs' an example of personification?

   
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   No! 'its raining cats and dogs' is an Idiom.

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When you use the expression raining cats and dogs you are using?

   
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   "It's raining cats and dogs" is an idiom.

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What is an idiom for it is raining cats and dog?

   
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   "It is raining cats and dogs" IS an idiom. It means raining hard.

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What does rained cats and dogs means?

   
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   Raining cats and dogs mean that it's raining very hard

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Who said it is raining cats and dogs?

   
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What is meant by the phrase Dog Vs Cat?

   
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   The phrase dog vs cat isn't common but it would mean that they are fighting or battling. However, raining cats and dogs means that it is raining heavily.

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When do cats fall from the sky?

   
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   There is an expression - "raining cats and dogs". This does not mean that cats and/or dogs are literally falling from the sky, it simply means that it is raining very hard.

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Under what headword would you find the idiom raining cats dogs?

   
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   under what headword would you find the idiom raining cats and dogs?

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What is a hyperbole about rain?

   
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Can animals rain from the sky?

   
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   No. I suppose someone could drop them from a high spot and make that illusion, but rain is evaporated water. If you're reffering to the phrase, "It's raining cats and dogs", then I can explain. That phrase came up a long time ago. People put slates for roofs. When it rained the cats and dogs up there fell because it got slippery. This made it look like it was raining cats and dogs.

Asked in Word and Phrase Origins

   

What is its raining cats and dogs origins?

   
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   In olden times people threw rubbish into the street. In amongst the rubbish would be cats and dogs which would be washed along the street during heavy rain. Hence raining cats and dogs. Of course, they are not literally raining from above!

Asked in Word and Phrase Origins

   

Where did the term raining cats and dogs come from?

   
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   In the English language it means 'heavy rain' The origin is uncertain

Asked in Word and Phrase Origins

   

Is raining cats and dogs a hyperbole?

   
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How do cats and dogs know it's raining?

   
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   They go outside, if they get wet they know it is raining.

Asked in Idioms, Cliches, and Slang, Word and Phrase Origins

   

What is the literal meaning of its raining cats and dogs?

   
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   LITERAL? The LITERAL meaning is that cats and dogs are falling out of the sky.

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Is there a idiom list that has literally meaning?

   
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Why did pete take a leash outside when it was raining?

   
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   Beacuse someone told him it was raining cats and dogs

Asked in Rain and Flooding, Animal Life

   

Where did raining animals come from?

   
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What is example of simile metaphor?

   
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How can you tell if it is really raining cats and dogs?

   
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   when you step in a poodle!
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