Meaning and Expression of Heavy Rain / Languages
It's raining cats and dogs! It simply means raining very heavily. In this phrase, there is no sense connecting animals and raining. But it makes sense figuratively when we are considering why and how we use this expression. In fact, many languages have similar expressions. There are some hypotheses and reliable theories about this expression and idioms for heavy rain in many different languages.
It could be said that the word cat is from the Greek word 'catadupe' which means waterfall, or originally, the expression based on the Latin, raining 'cata doxas' means 'contrary to experience' as in a heavy rainfall. The word dog, basically symbolizes wind in mythology. Therefore raining cats and dogs means heavy rain accompanied with wind and storm.
"Raining animals were first described by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century and ever since caused astonishment and perplexity. Before the advent of modern science, supernatural explanations, from God to extraterrestrial entities, were invoked to explain the phenomenon. The scientific explanation involves a combination of geographic circumstance and meteorological chance. During a storm, wind may sweep the earth's surface at great speed, creating whirlwinds or even small tornadoes that can catch debris on the surface." 1
It's raining cats and dogs, even frogs, toads, flounders, minnows, snails, mussels, maggots, etc. Raining animals is an expression but also a phenomenon in an unforeseen weather occurrence. If we believe it or not, this strange and mysterious meteorological phenomenon supposes a scientific explanation that gives us a good reason to reconsider the interrelation of the fact, knowledge and understanding beyond our perception.
"One of the most common theories is that it stems from 17th century England, when animals, killed by the bubonic plague, would lie dead in the streets. They would apparently flow down the gutters after a heavy rainstorm." 2
Have we ever seen raining animals in real life? Animals of any kind? How do we feel the weather, atmospheric conditions, and nature? How much of what we know regarding weather forecasts and reports are based on news? In the world in which we live there are unexplainable things. As we get older, we become tamer as well. We are more acceptant in understanding the world as well as the unexplainable.
Our ancestors, from generation to generation, tell us stories about the sky that serve as moral, ethical, and practical guides. They tell us the way perception becomes human knowledge about nature and the universe. Now the expression in language and human knowledge in cultural and natural environment mingle with experiences in society and create another dimension of cognition.* ref.