Raining cats and dogs

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 24 18:14:37 UTC 2005

At 12:59 PM -0500 1/24/05, James A. Landau wrote:
>I heard the following story about the phrase "raining cats and dogs" and
>would like to know if it is true, etymythology, or undecided:
>"The phrase comes from the days when most roofs were thatch.  Now thatch
>contains seeds, which means it attracts mice and rats who eat the
>seeds.  To get
>the rhodents out of their rooves, people would turn their cats and dogs loose
>on the roof.  When it rained, the felines and canines were washed
>off the roof,
>hence the expression."
This is an entry in the immortal "Life in the 15th century"
collection, a web-circulated panoply of etymythology if there ever
was one.  Without checking the snopes folks, I would expect it's
exactly as accurate as the Hellenized reconstruction of "rhodent"
above--stemming no doubt from the days of yore in which rats' teeth
were shaped like the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet.


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