It’s raining cats and dogs

The English are obsessed with the weather, probably more than most nations. It’s an odd obsession because the weather is often grey, gloomy, wet, drizzly, foggy, chilly or frosty.

The weather has long been our traditional entrée into social interaction; one of the few remaining, non-threatening doors that lead to simple conversations with another member of our species.

Ben: It’s still raining cats and dogs (pleuvoir des hallebardes or pleuvoir des cordes).

Gill: Yeah, they say it’ll clear over this afternoon. Maybe a spot of sun this afternoon.

Ben: That’s good. More rain tomorrow, they reckon.

Gill: It’s good for the garden. How are the kids?

The English language is full of expressions about the weather. The weather affects our mood. The external climate affects our inner climate and it’s not just psychological. It’s also about survival. We rely on the weather to produce food. A severe frost (gel) is very unwelcome, especially if it destroys our food and threatens our survival. If you receive a frosty or chilly reception from someoneyou know you are not welcome.


Riders on the Storm: The Doors

We can use the following words to describe the weather, as well as people and situations.

gloomy, grey, dull (sad and depressing)

frosty, chilly, cool (unfriendly) NB: Chilly means cold. It has nothing to do with chili, the very hot spice.

stormy (angry)

hazy, cloudy, foggy (confused)


Four Seasons: Antonio Vivaldi

Some people have a sunny disposition (a positive outlook). Many people say it’s easier to warm to (make friends with) Canadians, New Zealanders or Australians and that some northern Europeans can be a little cold (not so friendly).

If you are under the weather, then you are not feeling well. You may have had a few too many glasses of wine last night.

A fair-weather friend is a friend when times are good, but someone who cannot be found when things become difficult. It’s better to have a friend come rain or shine who is loyal and reliable in all situations, no matter how challenging.

So put on your raincoat and rubber boots (and your headphones). Here is today’s weather forecast:


To be a breeze:  to be very easy to do.

Our English exam was a breeze. I’m sure I’ll get top marks.


Call me the Breeze: JJ Cale

Get wind of something: to learn or hear of something that should be a secret.

He got wind of the closure of the company so started looking for a new job.

Throw caution to the wind: act recklessly and forget all responsibilities or commitments.

They threw caution to the wind and left their jobs all on the same day, before finding a new job.


As right as rain: to feel fine and healthy and have no problems

Don’t worry about me, I’ll be as right as rain by myself.


Singin’ in the Rain: Gene Kelly

It never rains but it pours: when things don’t just go wrong but very wrong and then something else bad happens again.

First he lost his telephone, then his credit card and then his car broke down. It never rains but it pours.

It’s raining cats and dogs: it’s raining very hard.

Take you umbrella and a jacket because it’s raining cats and dogs outside.

Save for a rainy day: to save for the future when it might suddenly be needed (unexpectedly).

I know you want to buy a new kitchen, but you should really save that money for a rainy day.

Take a rain check: decline something now, but offer to do it at a later date.

Thanks for inviting me to dinner but I can’t this week. Can I take a rain check on that?


The Sound of Sunshine: Michael Franti and Spearhead


To brighten up – to become more cheerful or to add colour and light to a dull space.

I think we need to paint the room. It needs brightening up.

Your mother really brightened up when she got the flowers you sent.

To take a shine to someone or something– to develop a liking, attraction for someone or something often after the first meeting.

The interview went really well. I think the HR manager took a shine to me.

To make hay when the sun shines – to make the most of an opportunity while it lasts.

You won’t be able to go to Australia if your get the job. Go now. Make hay while the suns shines


Ain’t no Sunshine: Bill Withers

A ray of sunshine – Someone or something that makes others feel happy and positive, often during a difficult time.

My grandson is a little ray of sunshine

everything under the sun – everything on earth.

I would not give you my grandfather’s watch for everything under the sun.

To have a sunny disposition – to have a positive and happy attitude about life.

George is a happy chap. He always has a kind word. He has such a sunny disposition.


Garry Littman

Garry Littman

Garry Littman est le fondateur de The Language House à Genève. The Language House propose des coachings d'anglais à Genève pour les particuliers et les entreprises, ainsi que des cours intensifs d'anglais dans les pays anglophones. Garry a été journaliste en Australie et en Asie, il a travaillé pour World Radio Switzerland.

2 réponses à “It’s raining cats and dogs

  1. L’anglais n’est pas ma langue maternelle, mais votre contribution a mieux la faire connaître est alléchante. L’usage de ces multiples expressions courantes ou leur reconnaissance en situation pratique reste toutefois et malheureusement problématique. Mais je fais avec.

    1. Yes, you are right. It is not easy to use expressions like these. It takes times and practice before you feel comfortable using idioms and expressions. I suggest you find one or two expressions that you like, such as “it’s raining cats and dogs”. Please be patient. I am writing for a wide variety of readers who all have different levels of English.

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