Raining cats and dogs

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Apr 14 16:15:13 UTC 2002

There's a lot of nonsense on the Web, of course. Quinion's site (among a
few others) is generally reasonable, IMHO:


When I looked into this one some time ago, I arrived at the conclusion that
the "animal corpses in the gutters" etymology-theory was as good as any.

Farmer and Henley (1891) quote Swift (1710): "Now from all parts the
swelling kennels flow, And bear their trophies with them as they go ...
Drown'd puppies, stinking sprats, all drench'd in mud, Dead cats, and
turnip-tops, come tumbling down the flood."

The idea I think is that a heavy rain will lift even large pieces of
garbage/debris -- such as animal corpses -- not that the animals were
necessarily actually killed by the rain (although newborn
puppies/kittens/etc. might have been).

-- Doug Wilson

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