the devil is beating his wife

the devil is beating his wife
also known as sunshower or sun shower

Meaning | Synonyms

  • raining whereas the sun is shining
  • when the sun is shining yet it's raining
  • when raining but the sun is shining at the same time

Example Sentences

  1. Today, the devil is beating his wife in our city - it's raining cats and dog and sun is also shining.
  2. Yesterday, I saw a very rare event which is called - the devil is beating his wife.
  3. In people Southern United States of America usually comes across a weird natural phenomenon known as the devil is beating his wife.
  4. Everybody laughed, when a kid asked her mom, "Mamma, I want to see how the devil is beating his wife".

Origin

Several cultures now ascribed this phenomenon to folkloric tales featuring clever animals or tricksters being related or getting married to the devil. For instance, in the Southern United States and Hungary, when they experience a sun shower, they say "the devil is beating his wife with a walking stick", while the French would say "the devil is beating his wife and marrying his daughter."

The illustration of the idiomatic phrase can be explained as that of the devil spitting the fire of hell (the sun rays) and his wife's tears (the rain).

The first recorded use of this phrase was in 1703 in a French play, "to go and thrash him round the church-yard, as the devil does his wife in rainy weather when the sun shines." Then years later, a writer Jonathan Swift used it in 1738:

"the devil was beating his wife behind the door with a shoulder of mutton."

Another version was recorded in 1893 in Inwards' Weather Lore:

"if it rains while the sun is shining the devil is beating his grandmother."

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T 16 Thoughts

16 Thoughts

I heard this saying from my father during the 60’s. We are from East Tennessee.

- Bax Plemons November 6, 2020

North Florida here. I have heard “The devil is beating his wife” all of my 5 decades of life. Even the grandparents used it.
“Sun showers” sounds so much nicer 🙂

- ANON September 6, 2020

I’m from Southern, WV. My grandfather always told me when the sun is out and it’s raining, “The devil was beating his wife!”. He grew up in VA.

- Chuck Akers September 2, 2020

I’ve heard that if you put a pin on the ground while the devil is beating his wife, you could hear her crying.

- Betty August 30, 2020

In Bengali the saying for this phenomenon translates to “the fox uncle’s wedding.”

- Anonymous August 26, 2020

As a child in New Orleans in the 50s we used to say, “The devil is beating his wife for putting too much salt in his soup.”

- Brod Bagert August 25, 2020

Interesting that similar expressions exist in Arabic: “Satan is bathing (not beating!) his wife”
Mauritian Creole: “the devil is getting married under the chili bush”, both used in connection with sunshine+rain.

- Hunczutpoffa August 18, 2020

Wow! I have never heard this expression. I am an English born South African and in South Africa we say it is a monkey’s wedding when it rains whilst the sun shines?

- Penelope Weddell July 23, 2020

We actually used to say “the devil is beating his wife and burning his biscuits?!” Where the heck did we get this?

- Anonymous July 22, 2020

I was born in Virginia near where the Earl Hamner (Walton) family was from. My grandfather always said when it rains when the sun is shining it means the devil is beating his wife.

- Mike Webber July 15, 2020

I have also heard that if the sun is out when it rains that in Puerto Rico’s version is that it means “The Witch is getting Married.”

- Luv2laf July 2, 2020

I heard that if you put the pin in a tree you could hear her crying.

- Luv2laf July 2, 2020

Funny, in Marion, SC, a coworker during a sun shower “the devil is beating his wife”… I said “where the heck did you hear that?” She then said “if it lightenings during a sun shower, ‘the devil is beating his wife behind the kitchen door’”

Cracked me up!

- Pati July 1, 2020

I heard that when it is raining while the sun is shining that the devil is beating his wife and that if you stick a pin in the ground, you can hear his wife crying and screaming.

- Anonymous June 21, 2020

Learned from my grandmother when I would play in the summer rains trying to find the spot where the rained stopped and began.

- Anonymous June 21, 2020

Cool, never knew this

- Me December 9, 2018

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Idiom of the Day

head-on

Meaning: front-to-front

Example: Even with the increased hostility at work, Amanda faced all her colleagues head-on as she pitched her new proposal. Read on

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