‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’: Definition, Meaning and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on April 4, 2023

Have you heard someone say that ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’? Are you wondering what that means? Below, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin of the phrase, plus provide examples of how to use it in a sentence correctly.

In short:

  • ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ means that it’s raining very hard outside.

Essentially, it means that the rain is coming down hard outside.

What Does ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs Mean’?

‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ is a common English expression that people use when it’s raining very hard outside. You might hear someone saying it as they’re staring out the window at the rain.

  • You might also hear it when someone comes in from the storm, commenting on how bad the weather is outside.

In the movie Toy Story 4, when Jessie and Bullseye are staring out the window, worried, Jessie says:

Whoa! It’s raining cats and dogs out there! I hope they make it back alright.’

In Season 8, episode 21 of The Office, Phyllis comes in from outside, shaking her umbrella, and says:

‘Phew! Wow. It’s raining cats and dogs out there.’

And in season one, episode 22 of How I Met Your Mother, the weatherman who works with Robin says:

‘It’s gonna rain cats and dogs, folks.’

Where Does ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’ Come From? 

Some believe the phrase ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ comes from:

  • Norse mythology,
  • Dead animals in the streets of Britain were being picked up by storm waters.

Some sources say that it comes from medieval superstitions, and others say the obsolete word:

  • ‘catadupe,’ which means waterfall.

The first recorded use of a phrase similar to the phrase ‘raining cats and dogs’ was in the collection of poems by Olor Iscanus in 1651.

Other sources say that it comes from Tudor times:

  • When people had to keep their animals in their homes with them (more than just cats and dogs).

Roofing during that time was just a thatch that dropped directly into the house. So, when it rained heavily, the animals would fall through the thatch.

Examples of ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’ in Sentences

How would you use ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ in a sentence?

Let’s see some examples: 

  • There were so many people just sitting in their cars, waiting for the rain to stop. It’s raining cats and dogs and has been ever since we pulled up to the supermarket. I wonder when it’s going to stop.
  • There’s a thin line between pouring down rain and raining cats and dogs. If it’s drizzling outside, I don’t mind going out to run errands. But if it’s raining cats and dogs, I won’t leave the house.
  • Of course, it’s raining cats and dogs on the day of my daughter’s 16th birthday party. She’s going to be so upset. Should we move the party to a new location indoors?
  • I just stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, but it’s raining cats and dogs out there. So, I had to come back inside. No one likes a soggy cigarette.
  • My best friend’s house is a hop, skip, and a jump away from my house, but I’m still not going anywhere because it’s raining cats and dogs outside. We were supposed to be hanging out by her pool.
  • The first day of school, and it’s raining cats and dogs. I don’t want my clothes to be soaked by the time I get to school. Can I have a ride?
  • The day I was supposed to go to the Tems concert, it's raining cats and dogs. I hope everything clears up because I really want to see her perform. She’s my favorite artist!
  • It was hot as hell, and it was just raining cats and dogs. I don’t understand New York weather. Thankfully, I won’t have to deal with it much longer since I’m moving houses and going to LA.

Other Ways to Say ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’?

Let’s see some examples:

  • Pouring
  • Flooding
  • Precipitating
  • Storming
  • Teeming
  • Bucketing/bucketing down
  • Pouring down rain
  • Coming down in torrents
  • Coming down in sheets
  • Chucking down
  • Raining hard
  • Sheeting down
  • Tipping down
  • Coming down in stair rods
  • Chucking it down
  • Pelting down
  • Raining stair rods
  • Streaming
  • Coming down hard
  • Beating down
  • Coming down in bucket loads
  • Rainstorm

Final Advice on ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ means that it’s raining very hard outside.

Essentially, it means that the rain is coming down hard outside.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back here to review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on idioms you might find helpful as you’re learning this complex language we call English. Feel free to check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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