Idioms

    rain cats and dogs, Informal. to rain very heavily or steadily: We canceled our picnic because it rained cats and dogs.

Origin of rain

before 900; (noun) Middle English rein; Old English regn, rēn, cognate with Dutch, German regen, Old Norse regn, Gothic rign; (v.) Middle English reinen, Old English regnian
SYNONYMS FOR rain
Related formsrain·less, adjectiverain·less·ness, noun
Can be confusedrain reign rein
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rain cats and dogs

rain

/ (reɪn) /

noun


verb

US and Canadian term: rained out
See also rains
Derived Formsrainless, adjective

Word Origin for rain

Old English regn; related to Old Frisian rein, Old High German regan, Gothic rign
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Science definitions for rain cats and dogs

rain

[ rān ]

Water that condenses from water vapor in the atmosphere and falls to Earth as separate drops from clouds. Rain forms primarily in three ways: at weather fronts, when the water vapor in the warmer mass of air cools and condenses; along mountain ranges, when a warm mass of air is forced to rise over a mountain and its water vapor cools and condenses; and by convection in hot climates, when the water vapor in suddenly rising masses of warm air cools and condenses. See also hydrologic cycle.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with rain cats and dogs (1 of 2)

rain cats and dogs

Also, rain buckets. Rain very heavily, as in It was raining cats and dogs so I couldn't walk to the store, or It's been raining buckets all day. The precise allusion in the first term, which dates from the mid-1600s, has been lost, but it probably refers to gutters overflowing with debris that included sewage, garbage, and dead animals. Richard Brome used a version of this idiom in his play The City Wit (c. 1652), where a character pretending a knowledge of Latin translates wholly by ear, “Regna bitque/and it shall rain, Dogmata Polla Sophon/dogs and polecats and so forth.” The variant presumably alludes to rain heavy enough to fill pails.


Idioms and Phrases with rain cats and dogs (2 of 2)

rain

In addition to the idioms beginning with rain

  • rain cats and dogs
  • rain check
  • rain on one's parade
  • rain or shine
  • rain out
  • rainy day, a

also see:

  • come in out of the rain
  • it never rains but it pours
  • right as rain

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.