Monday, November 3, 2008

It Raining Cats and Dogs

Sunday, December 16, 20079:09:00 AM EST
Feeling: Happy
Hearing: Matry Gotez Celebrate the Feastival of Lights
I remember as a child growing up in New York, hearing the phrase ; "it's raining cats and dogs." I would always look up into the sky, looking for falling animals. I still do.

[Q] From Gérard Joannès: “I know the phrase it’s raining cats and dogs is a bit outdated, but do you have any idea about its origin?”
[A] How many explanations would you like? I have found at least five.
The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs. Other suggestions include derivation from an unspecified Greek aphorism that was similar in sound and which meant “an unlikely occurrence”, or that it is a corrupted version of a rare French word, catadoupe, meaning a waterfall. It has also been suggested that at one time the streets of British towns were so poorly constructed that many cats and dogs would drown whenever there was a storm; people seeing the corpses floating by would think they had fallen from the sky, like the proverbial rains of frogs.
The most favoured one in the references I have found is mythological. It seems that cats were at one time thought to have influence over storms, especially by sailors, and that dogs were symbols of storms, often accompanying images and descriptions of the Norse storm god Odin. So when some particularly violent tempest appeared, people suggested it was caused by cats (bringing the rain) and dogs (the wind).
There is, I have to report, no evidence that I can find for any connection between the saying and the mythology other than the flat assertions of writers. The phrase first appears in its modern form in Jonathan Swift’s A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation in 1738: “I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs”, though a variant form is recorded in 1653 in City Wit, a work of the English playwright Richard Brome, in which he wrote “It shall raine ... Dogs and Polecats”, which seems to suggest a stranger and less easily comprehensible origin.
There are other similes which employ falls of improbable objects as figurative ways of expressing the sensory overload of noise and confusion that can occur during a violent rainstorm; people have said that it’s raining like pitchforks (first recorded in 1815), hammer handles, and even chicken coops. It’s probable that the version with cats and dogs fits into this model, without needing to invoke supernatural beliefs or inadequate drainage.
Funny, that is a phrase you don't here in the South. Other than when I say it. The children of the Sabbat school love to hear me say that when it's pouring rain outside. I just found a few pictures to bring to them to find a picture.
It would also make an great needlepoint project.
I have cleaning to do and then run some errands. I hope the weather will improve before I have to go out.

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