raining cats and dogs


raining cats and dogs

Meaning | Synonyms

  • too much heavy rain
  • torrential rain
  • very heavily raining
  • raining tremendously

Example Sentences

  1. It’s raining cats and dogs I am worried about how my kids will reach home.
  2. It rains cats and dogs when the Monsoon comes in India.
  3. How will you go to play Cricket today? It’s raining cats and dogs.
  4. When we were returning from the picnic, it was raining cats and dogs.
  5. I think it’s not safe to drive the car now – it’s raining cats and dogs.


“Raining cats and dogs” is a peculiar expression from the 17th century with uncertain origins. While we can’t be sure who coined the phrase first or what it originally meant, it’s probably not because the beloved pets fell from the sky.

As odd as it is, the phrase is prominent in almost every major dialect of English—from the roots of England to the United States and Canada, to even the multilingual Indian English and the blended Singlish from Singapore.

The phrase isn’t literal, and there is no recorded incident of cats and dogs dropping from the clouds like furry rain clumps. Similar phenomena with smaller creatures such as frogs, fish, and spiders have been recorded as they were sucked from lakes and ponds by waterspouts, but cats and dogs are too big to “rain.”

They may be thrown or fall from tornadoes in an unlucky twister, but the same goes for humans. That would be closer to hail than rain.

A few older explanations for the phrase exist, such as the thatched roof theory. Thatch is a type of padding or cover made woven and bound straw, reeds, palm, or similar plant materials. Long ago when most homes had thatched roofs–, cats and dogs would hide inside the thatch during storms. During heavy rain, the animals would be washed out of the thatch, and the falling could be considered “raining” as a joke that became a popular phrase.

Other origins include a Greek aphorism meaning “an unlikely occurrence”, and the French word catadupe, which is an old French word forcataract or waterfall.

Another idea from comes from old British towns that lacked proper construction. Because of poor town design and flood risks, cats and dogs would drown whenever there was a major storm. People would see the dead bodies of the animals floating by as if they had dropped from the sky like a proverbial rain of frogs.

And one more interesting reference comes from Norse mythology. Cats and dogs were taken to sea and on Viking raids because of myths, as pets, and as beasts of burden, but cats specifically were thought to have influence over storms. There are multiple versions of the myths and superstitions from the Viking era and into the medieval times. In some explanation, cats had great influence over storms or weather in general while dogs were a signal in wind. In a similar explanation, cats were symbols of torrential rains and the dog attendants of the Storm God Odin were gusts of wind. In yet another Norse Pantheon-related description, witches who transformed into cats rode upon the storm to follow Odin and his dog. These dogs, in this case, could refer to Geri and Freki in the Poetic Edda, but the theories are as wild and loose as the storms they describe.

Some of these tales are older than the expression, and even the discussion of where the phrase came from is becoming ancient history. The modern version of “raining cats and dogs” first appeared in Jonathan Swift’s A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation, 1978.

“I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs.”

This wasn’t the first time Jonathan Swift used the particular words for precipitating pets. In 1710—30 years before Ingenious Conversation—he wrote a poem named A Description of a City Shower with the following ending lines:

“Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud, Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood.”

In 1653, a similar, older phrase was written in a work called The City Witt by English playwright Richard Brome:

“It shall rain dogs and polecats.”

In this phrase, polecats are mentioned instead of cats. Polecats are relative to the weasel and were common critters in Great Britain during Richard Brome’s time.

The sources, similarities, and cultural influences are hard to separate. While there is no definite victor in the debate over who coined “raining cats and dogs”, at least it’s not raining elephants.

Share your opinions20 Opinions

It absolutely did not come from dogs and cats hiding in thatched roofs being washed out by heavy rains. This could only have been surmised by someone that had no idea how tightly thatched roofs were woven. Think about it. If cats and dogs could hide in thatched roofs they wouldn’t keep out even the lightest rain.

‒ Edward Norman May 15, 2024

My take on it is simply that cats and dogs put together can be a rather tumultuous affair.

‒ Gilly April 7, 2023

It’s really weird someone told me about it so I thought that maybe cats and dogs are playing outside 😳

‒ Gilbert January 20, 2023

I heard cats n dogs would climb up in the ceiling for warmth at night and when it would rain on the thatched roofs it would run the cats n dogs out of the rafters in the ceiling.

‒ Wile E. Coyote October 15, 2022

I tend to go with either of the older meanings. 1) In the 1600/1700s common people typically lived in thatched roof cottages, which are water tight. They would have lofts and sleep up there which was usually the children. These type cottages usually has at least one large support beam. Heat rises, and dogs and cats would go up to the loft to stay warm. Cats especially would climb up on the beam to sleep. Dogs could have done that too or been on the edges of the loft is more probable. During heavy storms, it would be more humid causing condensation to form, thus causing them to fall. 2) (I don’t like this one because it is morbid and I don’t like telling it to my students.) When a storm would come and it was raining so hard, “gulley washer, ” as my family refers to it, it would flood. The flooding would carries dogs and cats away with the flood waters. (However, we know in modern day they are smart and are usually found hiding somewhere, even in trees, so I tend to believe the first tale.

‒ Michelle, Teacher of young minds August 15, 2021

This phrase can be right in the sense that heavy rains is much noisy, a cat and a dog are great enemies and once they meet, it’s havoc, big fight that involves big noise similar to wind and heavy rain

‒ Paul Kalizangoma March 24, 2021

It refers the sound loud like cats & dogs are fighting on the roof.

‒ Aro jeba Stanly L February 24, 2021

I just had a thought: heavy rain sounds like animals running across the roof. Given how common cats and dogs have been for centuries, it makes sense that we would choose them for the comparison.

‒ Anonymous November 28, 2020

I think the phrase refers to the NOISE cats and dogs make when they are fighting-that noise is similar to the sounds of the torrential rains people traditionally refer to…the phrase is never used to comment on casual rain; it’s always the loud, crazy, noise of raining like cats and dogs (fighting).

‒ Roxane June 3, 2020

When I was told of this idiom, too many years ago, it went like this; In the old country when dead cats, dogs or any animal of the like, died in winter they didn’t want the bother of digging through the frozen ground to bury and so they put them on the roof of their dwelling to await a thaw. Strong early spring rainstorms would wash them off the roof and into the gutterways. And it would be ‘raining cats and dogs’.

‒ I’m an old-school teacher March 13, 2020

Dear Deepa,
It is an idiom. It can also be classified as a metaphor as the rain is being compared to cats and dogs.

Kind Regards

‒ TheIdioms.com August 3, 2018

Is it an idiom or paradox or a metaphor? What kind of expression is it?

‒ Deepa August 2, 2018

I think Raining Cats and Dogs originated long time ago when strong winds (hurricanes or typhoons) grabbed up some cats and dogs and deposited them elsewhere. That ‘elsewhere’ received the animals together with the heavy rain and thus the saying started. 🙂

‒ Tim Chan June 28, 2018

Aliens… Dogs, Cats and Birds are aliens watching us. They came to earth from above.

‒ Robert June 20, 2018

Please can anyone tell a story on it 😕

‒ Ira April 5, 2018

It really is. Heavy rains especially in the Philippines feels like there are cats and dogs playing catching game above the roofs. So yeah.

‒ Clyde April 1, 2018

This idiom is my favorite it’s raining cats and dogs, because of the sentence cats and dogs are raining above the sky??

‒ Gwen July 9, 2017

This is one of my favorite idiomatic phrases of all the times, whenever I use it in my class, all of my students start smiling at me. The best thing about this idiom is “Dogs” and “Cats”, most of the humans like either cats or dogs, so do they the idiom.

‒ Sylvia Stead June 30, 2017

Its about to raining cats and dog 🙂

‒ Mark Jade Student June 28, 2017

Haha, This is actually funny because when it rains really bad my kids say mommy it is raining like cats and dogs and I say what’s that mean they say it is raining really like as if there really were cats and dogs I just seen this website and I will definitely show my son and daughter this they will love it thank you so much and I hope you guys can come up with more and powerful and inspiring things thank you <3

Monique Fleming

‒ Monque March 28, 2015

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