Raining Cats and Dogs

It’s summer time in the Northern Hemisphere and here in Germany as the weather heats up, it also means that the potential for heavy rain increases.  A common phrase that is used in English to describe heavy rain, is to say, “it is raining cats and dogs”.  Now obviously this doesn’t mean that cats and dogs are falling out of the sky, but rather it is a way to illustrate that not only is it raining but that it is raining very heavily.

One theory of the origin of this phrase in English comes from 17th century England.  It was believed that when it rained heavily that the gutters that were used to collect rain water and funnel it to the sewer system would overflow.  Given that the sanitary conditions of the time were not very high, this meant that anything that was in the gutter would flow through the streets.  Sometimes this would include dead animals, such as, cats or dogs.  So the expression became that when the rain was really heavy, then it was raining cats and dogs.


Vocabulary Check:

Hemisphere – half of a sphere or in this case the northern half of the Earth

Potential – (adj.) having the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.  He has the potential to become a great painter.

Obviously – (adv.) clearly understood.  It was obviously going to rain, based upon the dark storm clouds forming on the horizon.

Gutters – (noun) a shallow area used to collect and carry rainwater.  You also have gutters on your house or apartment.

Funnel – (verb) to guide something through or to move something.  The river was funneled through a series of locks, before it reached the ocean.

Sanitary – (adj.) relating to the conditions that affect hygiene and health.  The hospital had poor sanitary conditions, which resulted in people getting sick.