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Raining Cats and Dogs

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 14, 2008 at 18:11:

In Reply to: Raining Cats and Dogs posted by Gary Martin on April 14, 2008 at 08:56:

: : Well, the Historian/Writer Eric Sloane wrote in his book 'Folklore of American Weather' (1963, Hawthorn Books, NY), "This is believed to be a German mispronunciation of "cats and ducks." The Pennsylvanian German people used to say, "It is raining to keep in the cats and bring out the ducks." They also said, "It is snowing for cats and ducks," which meant that the snowfall was sufficient to track a cat or a duck through it."
: : This makes a bit more sense that animals falling off roofs, I should say.

: More believable than animals falling off roofs certainly, but that isn't saying much, as that story is clearly nonsense.

: 'Cats and ducks' adds to the numerous theories. Presumably though, if Sloane had any evidence for it he wouldn't have resorted to 'it is believed'.

But very strongly against it, though, is the fact that as stated in the thesaurus, 'the first appearance of the currently used version is in Jonathan Swift's A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation (a collection of fashionable catchphrases in 1738: "I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs"'. As this book was a collection of banal catchphrases in use in Swift's day, it must already have been common currency. It's quite exceptionally unlikely that a Pennsylvania Dutch phrase would have been in fashionable London use at that date. (VSD)