I’m sure most people know the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” but have you ever wondered were it came from? I have so I thought I’d check it out.
One theory is that the phrase originated in England when many dogs and cats drowned during heavy downpours of rain causing the rivers to burst their banks. Their bodies would be seen floating in the rain torrents that raced through the streets giving the appearance that it had literally rained “cats and dogs”. So like many many things that originated in England it’s origin is morbid an depressing, much like “ring around the Rosie”.
Another theory stated that cats and dogs would crawl into thatch roofs during storms and then be washed out during heavy rains. However, a thatch roof is naturally water resistant and slanted to allow water to run off. So if the roof was maintained properly the animals would have to be lying on the outside to fall off the roof —an unlikely place for an animal to seek shelter during a storm.
Many popular origin tales involved the Greeks. “Cats and dogs” could come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.
Although some believe it had to do with Odin, the Norse god of storms and witches. Odin was often pictured with dogs and wolves, which were symbols of wind. While Witches, who rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, who then became signs of heavy rain for sailors. Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” refers to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).
No one seems to know the true beginning of the phrase but the first recorded use was in the 1651 collection of poems Olor Iscanus. British poet, Henry Vaughan, wrote a line which said that a roof was secure against “dogs and cats rained in shower.” A year later, Richard Brome, an English playwright, wrote in his comedy City Witt, “It shall rain dogs and polecats.” Since then, like most things it has evolved to be quite a popular phrase, for which most everyone has heard of.
If you have any questions, recommendations for future posts, or stories feel free to leave a comment. It’s always much appreciated, thanks.