What Does Raining Cats and Dogs Mean?

Raining Cats and Dogs Meaning

Definition: Raining a lot; heavy precipitation.

Origin of Raining Cats and Dogs

This expression became popular in the 1800s. However, this idiom has variations that occurred even earlier.

There is a lot of speculation about the origin of this idiom. One morbid theory has more evidence than the others. It proposes that heavy rains caused flooding that would carry dead animals in the water. Sanitation in cities used to be quite poor, and trash and dead animals would often be left in the streets.

The rains could cause these cadavers and other debris to float through town.

Examples of Raining Cats and Dogs

it's raining cats and dogs idiomIn this dialogue, a sister is talking about a picnic she has planned with her brother.

Maria: Hey! Look at all this great stuff I bought for our picnic.

Franco: That all looks great. I’ll start packing it up in the basket, so that we can carry it to the park.

Maria: Did you hear that?

Franco: Uh oh. I think that was the sound of thunder.

Maria: No! It can’t rain! The forecast said today would be sunny.

Franco: It looks like it is starting to rain a little. And now it’s raining even harder.

Maria: And now it’s raining cats and dogs. I guess we have to cancel our picnic.

to rain cats and dogs meaningThe second example shows two university students discussing their plans for the weekend.

Lorenzo: Are you going to see the band that’s supposed to perform on campus this Friday?

Alba: Well, I was going to, but then I checked the weather.

Lorenzo: What is the weather supposed to be like?

Alba: Apparently, it’s supposed to rain cats and dogs. If the forecast changes, I might go to the concert. If it doesn’t, I assume the whole thing will be canceled.

Lorenzo: Yeah, I guess that’s always a risk with outdoor concerts.

More Examples

This article excerpt compares different weather extremes in Las Vegas.

  • Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or just scorchingly hot, resorts along the Strip offer a surprising number of family-friendly attractions. –Chicago Tribune

The article excerpt below describes bad weather while a transit worker was sleeping during work hours.

  • “I was sleeping on my lunch time,” Prendergast told The Post. “It was about 4:30 a.m. It was raining cats and dogs. They’re paying you for your lunch time, so they don’t want you to sleep.” –New York Post


The phrase raining cats and dogs is a weather term and describes heavy rainfall.