Thursday, February 02, 2012

It's raining cats and dogs

This phrase is used when you look outside and see an immense downpour of water. Although in reality, we are just thinking “I don’t want to go outside now.”

This phrase does not have a clear origin but one theory comes from a viral email back in 1999. The email circulated for some time and described how people lived in the 1500s. The email looked something like this:

1817 Caricature - Raining cats and dogs
I'll describe their houses a little. You've heard of thatch roofs, well that's all they were. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. They were the only place for the little animals to get warm. So all the pets; dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs, all lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs."1

This email did not explain the true origin of this phrase because dogs did not live in thatched roofs. In addition, the dogs would need to be on the outside of the roof in order to fall off. Dogs were not stupid back in the 1500s. They knew not to sit on top of a roof in a torrential downpour.

One of the best explanations of this phrase comes from the filthy streets of England in the 17th century. The streets of England in the 17th century were filled with filth and when heavy rains fell the water carried away dirt and the corpses of dead animals. These animals did not fall from the sky but their appearance in the streets many have caused this phrase.

When you find yourself walking in a heavy downpour, be thankful that the streets are not littered with dead cats and dogs. If you want to read some positive stories about cats, you can visit my friend Laurel's blog.  

1 comment:

  1. I love that you only mention dead dogs and not cats, Laurel would have had it in for you otherwise!