What does the idiom "rain cats and dogs" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase rain cats and dogs, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression rain cats and dogs used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "rain cats and dogs"


The phrase 'rain cats and dogs' is an English idiom used to describe rain that is coming down from the sky in a very heavy manner. It is often used as an expression of exaggeration to emphasize the amount of rainfall. It does not mean that actual cats and dogs are falling from the sky.


The phrase 'rain cats and dogs' is said to have originated in the 17th century, although the exact origin of the phrase is unknown. It has been suggested that the phrase was derived from the Greek expression 'Katadoupoi', which means 'to rain as if a river had turned its course downwards'. It is also possible that it was an alteration of the phrase 'cadgadrops', which was used to describe a very heavy rainstorm.


The phrase 'rain cats and dogs' is typically used when one is talking about a particularly heavy downpour of rain. It is not used to describe light or moderate rain, but rather rain that is intense and could be described as a torrential downpour. The phrase can also be used in other contexts, such as to describe a situation that is chaotic or out of control, as if it is raining cats and dogs.

Example Sentences

  • It started raining cats and dogs, and we had to run for cover.
  • Things have been chaotic around here, it's like it's raining cats and dogs.
  • I couldn't believe how hard it was raining, it was like cats and dogs.
  • The forecast said it was going to rain cats and dogs, so I was prepared for a downpour.

The meanings of the words in the "rain cats and dogs" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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