Idiom: Raining cats and dogs

Cartoon illustration of a man with an umbrella running as cats and dogs rain down from the sky, representing the idiom 'raining cats and dogs'.


Look at the picture and try to guess the meaning of the idiom 'raining cats and dogs.'   

rain cats and dogs:  To rain very heavily.


When we say it rains heavily or rains cats and dogs we mean it rains a lot at a particular moment in time. The opposite is a small amount of rain: light rain or rains lightly or drizzles.

You can use this idiom in any verb tense form: rained cats and dogs, rains cats and dogs, is raining cats and dogs, etc.

By the way, there's a chance this idiom might be in your own language because many languages have their own unique way of expressing the idea of a heavy downpour. These idiomatic expressions often draw from cultural or historical references, which makes them fascinating to explore.

Here are a few in other languages:

  • French: "Il pleut des cordes." (It's raining ropes.)
  • Spanish: "Está lloviendo a cántaros." (It's raining by the jugfuls.)
  • German: "Es regnet in Strömen." (It's raining in streams.)
  • Dutch: "Het regent pijpenstelen." (It's raining pipe stems.)
  • Swedish: "Det regnar smådjävlar." (It's raining little devils.)
  • Danish: "Det regner skomagerdrenge." (It's raining shoemaker boys.)
  • Norwegian: "Det regner trollkjerringer." (It's raining female trolls.)
  • Finnish: "Sataa kuin Esterin perseestä." (It's raining like from Ester's behind.)
  • Russian: "Льёт как из ведра." (It's pouring as if from a bucket.)
  • Greek: "Βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα." (It's raining chair legs.)
  • Italian: "Piove a catinelle." (It's raining from basins.)
  • Portuguese: "Está chovendo canivetes." (It's raining pocket knives.)
  • Hebrew: "גשם כפרות." (It's raining frogs.)
  • Czech: "Padají trakaře." (Wheelbarrows are falling.)
  • Polish: "Leje jak z cebra." (It's pouring as if from a bucket.)
  • Hungarian: "Mint a dézsmából." (Like from the tithe, suggesting heavy rain.)

Sentence examples

  • The sky suddenly turned grey and it rained cats and dogs for 20 minutes.   
  • I love the sound when it rains cats and dogs
  • The road gets flooded very quickly every time it rains cats and dogs.
  • It's been raining cats and dogs for almost 30 minutes and we're all waiting in the cafe entrance for it to stop.
  • An umbrella isn't much help when it's raining cats and dogs—you need a hat, boots and a long raincoat too.
  • It rained cats and dogs on my wedding day so we couldn't have the ceremony on the beach as we had planned.
  • We're going to have to cancel the picnic—it's raining cats and dogs and therefore there's no chance the ground will dry out quickly enough.
  • It was raining cats and dogs and we couldn't even see the road so we pulled off the highway and waited until the rain became lighter.
  • What's that noise? It's the sound of rain on the roofit's raining cats and dogs outside.
  • We'll go outside later—it's raining cats and dogs now and I don't want to get soaking wet.
Illustration of a boy walking through the rain with his umbrella open and cats and dogs falling from the sky with the caption: It's raining cats and dogs (meaning: to rain a lot and very heavily)
  • I look like I took a shower with my clothes on! It’s raining cats and dogs outside and I forgot to bring my umbrella.
  • I love the sound when it's raining cats and dogs outside.
  • The weather forecast called for light rain throughout the day but it was raining cats and dogs this afternoon and there was hail too.
  • I forgot my umbrella so I'll wait here at the office until it stops raining so hard—it's raining cats and dogs right now.
  • You'll also need rain boots and a rain coat because it's raining cats and dogs outside.
  • It’s been raining cats and dogs for two days and now there some flooding in the coastal areas.
  • I love staying at home drinking tea when it rains cats and dogs outside.
  • My hair is completely wet because it's raining cats and dogs outside.
  • I had to buy a new umbrella today because I wore a white dress and it rained cats and dogs all afternoon.
  • Don't you just love the sound when it rains cats and dogs?
  • During the summer when it's very hot and humid, it frequently rains cats and dogs for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon.

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