CLOSE
Getty Images
Getty Images

15 International Idioms That Describe Heavy Rain

Getty Images
Getty Images

What do non-English-speaking people say when it's raining cats and dogs? Here are 15 idioms that mean "heavy rain" from around the world.

1. Argentina: "It's raining dung head-first."
In Spanish: Esta lloviendo caen soretes de punta.

2. South Africa and Namibia: "It's raining old women with clubs."
In Afrikaans: Ou vrouens met knopkieries reen.

3. Denmark: "It's raining cobbler boys," or "raining shoemakers' apprentices."
In Danish: Det regner skomagerdrenge.

4. France: "It's raining like a pissing cow."
In French: Il pleut comme vache qui pisse.

5. Faroe Islands: "It's raining pilot whales."
In Faroese: Tað regnar av grind.

6. Finland: The direct translation (apparently) is "It's raining as from Esteri's ass," but a better interpretation is "It's raining like Esther sucks," which can be used for both rain and snow. The origin is disputed here, but the phrase comes either from an old brand of water pumps used by firemen, or a goddess Esteri who has mostly disappeared from history except for in this idiom. (Anyone have additional info on this story?)
In Finnish: Sataa kuin Esterin perseestä.

7. Germany: "It's raining puppies."
In German: Es regnet junge Hunde.

8. Greece: "It's raining chair legs."
In Greek: Rixnei kareklopodara. (?????? ?????????????)

9. Ireland: "It's throwing cobblers' knives."
In Irish: Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí.

10. The Netherlands: "It's raining old women," and "It's raining pipestems."
In Dutch: Het regent oude wijven and Het regent pijpestelen.

11. Norway: "It's raining troll women," or "It's raining witches."
In Norwegian: Det regner trollkjerringer.

12. Poland, France, Romania: "It's raining frogs."
In Polish: Pada ?abami.
In French: Il pleut des grenouilles.
In Romanian: Plou? cu broa?te.

13. Portugal, Brazil, and other Portuguese-speaking countries: "It's raining pocketknives," and "It's raining frogs' beards."
In Portuguese: Está chovendo canivetes or Está chovendo barba de sapo.

14. Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia: "The rain kills the mice."
In Serbian: Pada kiša, ubi miša. (???? ???? ??? ????)

15. Slovakia, Czech Republic: "Tractors are falling."
In Slovak: Padajú traktory.

If you're curious where the phrase "raining cats and dogs" comes from, add your name to the list. Some think it originated in the 1500s, when roofs were commonly thatched. A downpour could send stray pets pummeling through rooftops. A less whimsical origin story notes that drainage systems in the 17th century were pretty substandard compared to today's models; when the rain came in buckets, gutters would release whatever animal corpses were stuck in there since the last rain, including birds and rats. And yet another idea is that the phrase is a corruption of either the Old French word for waterfall, catadupe, or the Greek kata doska, meaning "contrary to expectation."

arrow
language
Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Fox Photos/Getty Images
arrow
Words
The Early 20th Century Society That Tried to Make English Spelling More Intuitive
George Bernard Shaw, a member of the Simplified Spelling Soesiety
George Bernard Shaw, a member of the Simplified Spelling Soesiety
Fox Photos/Getty Images

The English language is notorious for complex spelling rules—and the many words that break them. We all know i comes before e, except, of course, in certain weird words like, well, weird. We pronounce the letter i like eye if the word ends in an e—except in words like give. Unsurprisingly, even native English speakers get fed up with the inanity of the language’s complicated spelling conventions, and there have been several pushes to replace them with something a little more intuitive over the centuries, as The Public Domain Review highlights.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the London-based Simplified Speling Soesiety was one of the groups pushing for a more logical system of English spelling. Its journal, first published in 1912, refers to standard English spelling as "in sum waiz unreezonabl and retrograid.” So the group went about coming up with new ways to spell common words itself, hoping its alternate approach would catch on.

The Pioneer ov Simplified Speling contained a pronunciation guide, but many of its alternative spellings can be deciphered fairly easily. As long as you peruse carefully, that is. Reading through the publication feels like stumbling through an archaic text from hundreds of years ago, rather than something written during the 20th century.

A pronunciation guide from the 'Pioneer of Simplified Speling'
The Pioneer of Simplified Speling

Go ahead and wade into how the group, founded in 1908, explained its mission in the first edition of The Pioneer:

The aim ov the Soesiety nou iz tu plais befor the public cleer staitments ov the cais against the curent speling, tu sho hou seerius ar the consecwensez ov yuezing it, and hou much wood be gaind, if sum such sceem az that ov the Soesiety wer adopted.

Did you get all that?

The debut edition of the quirky journal, which you can read on the Internet Archive, includes not just the group’s mission statement and goals, but birthday congratulations to the Society’s founding president, aggregated updates about spelling in the news (like that in an interview, British chemist Sir William Ramsay mentioned a German child never making a spelling mistake), the announcement of the group’s annual meeting (at which members would submit new simplified spellings for discussion), and other minor spelling-related notes.

The whole thing is truly a treasure.

Fed-up readers and writers have been trying to wrangle English spelling conventions into something more manageable for essentially as long as there have been standardized spellings. Benjamin Franklin was a spelling reformer during his lifetime, as was Theodore Roosevelt. Soesiety member George Bernard Shaw went so far as to leave his estate in a trust dedicated to reforming the English alphabet when he died.

Though the spelling reformers of yore didn't find much mainstream acceptance for their ideas, there are still modern orthography obsessives who want to revamp the English spelling system to make it easier to learn. And they have a point: For English-speaking children, learning to read and write takes years longer than it does for kids learning to read in languages with easier spelling rules, like Finnish. Considering that one study of 7000 different English words found that 60 percent of them had irregularly used letters, it’s a wonder any of us English speakers have learned to read at all. If only the Simplified Speling Soesiety had gotten its way back in the early 1900s, maybe we would have an easier time of it.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios