What’s the meaning?
It’s raining very heavily, it’s raining a lot, very strong.
It’s pissing down.
What’s the origin?
Many explanations seem to explain the origin of this expression, but the explanation of this expression is really divided between two possibilities:
The first being that in the old farms of England, domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, slept in the attic, above the rooms. But when it rained, the roof being often badly insulated and not very waterproof, the animals surprised by the drops of rain ran to take refuge at the level of the bottom, that is to say in the rooms!
The second possibility for the explanation of the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” dates back to the 16th century. At that time, in England, city streets were often strewn with garbage of all kinds. There were even carcasses of dead animals, including bodies of cats and dogs, which were carelessly left here and there. The piles of garbage were such that when you were in the city, you could have imagined that just before, it had rained cats and dogs!
And what about other languages?
In French, there are three main expressions:
- “Il pleut des cordes”: literally “It’s raining ropes”. The rain is so strong that we have the feeling ropes are falling from the sky!
- “Il tombe des hallebardes”: literally “It’s raining halberds”. Same meaning as the previous one, more warrior…
- “Il pleut comme vache qui pisse”: literally “It’s raining like a cow peeing”. Did you ever see a cow taking a pee? 😉