Raising Cain Meaning
Definition: To behave in an angry way and cause a big disturbance.
Origin of Raising Cain
This expression originated in the first half of the 1800s. It takes inspiration from a much older source: the Bible.
In the first book of the Bible, God created the first man and the first woman. They had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain became jealous of Abel because God took favor on his brother Abel’s sacrifice. Therefore, Cain killed Abel out of jealousy.
It is clear that the phrase raising Cain alludes to something violent or disturbing. Raising Cain implies acting in an aggressive way. Similar expressions include raising hell or raising the devil.
All three versions use raise with the meaning to bring into this world as opposed to help a child grow up.
Examples of Raising Cain
The dialogue below shows two women at a party that they are throwing.
Mila: Betty, why didn’t you vacuum the living room floor? I’m sure our guests are appalled at how dirty it is!
Betty: I’m sure they didn’t notice.
Mila: Also, you said you would dust the cabinets, which you didn’t do either.
Betty: Listen, I know I didn’t help to prepare for this party like I said I would, and I’m sorry. But I can’t go back in time and change what I did, so please stop complaining about it. I’m going to raise Cain if you keep bothering me about this!
Mila: Okay, okay. Calm down. I’ll stop talking about it. I didn’t mean to make you so angry.
This dialogue shows a couple of roommates talking about a third roommate.
John: Amanda, what’s going on with Deacon?
Amanda: I don’t know. What did you hear?
John: He’s up in his room screaming. I can’t tell if he’s screaming at himself, or if he’s on the phone. It also sounds like he has a hammer and is destroying everything in his room.
Amanda: Oh wow! I can hear him now. He’s really loud. It sounds like he’s really raising Cain in there.
This quote shows an angry man telling sports fans that it is okay to be a little aggressive, but to still show some respect.
- “We’re North Carolina — we don’t have to be like everybody else,” Williams said. “You can raise Cain, you can boo, but you don’t have to say stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.” –Denver Post
The second excerpt is about an elderly woman in a small town who is famous for causing disturbances.
- In Lexington, her omnipresence at City Hall is legendary. It may be all those decades of raising heck in City Council meetings or the years spent raising Cain in her neighborhood. –Star Tribune
The idiom to raise Cain is to cause a ruckus or to behave aggressively.