There are many things associated with Britishness; a love of fish and chips, an obsession with the royal family. But perhaps more than anything else, British people have a unique fondness for discussing the weather. Even when no other topic of conversation exists, common ground and comfort with a British person can always be found by talking about the current state of the weather.
Being Britain however, the current state of the weather is often rather wet. This, when combined with British people’s love of talking about it, has led to some vivid expressions for rain. Here are a few of my favourite:
Raining cats and dogs – This is quite a common expression and is used to describe very heavy rain. I previously thought that the expression derived from a desire to portray the raindrops as particularly large (i.e. the size of cats and dogs). It turns out however, that the more likely origin is from a tendency in the past for heavy rain showers to wash cats and dogs into the street.
Raining stair-rods – Stair-rods are thin metal rods used to hold a carpet in place upon each step of a staircase. This expression therefore, is used to describe rain that is so heavy and constant, it takes on the appearance of upturned stair-rods.
Nice weather for the ducks – This expression can, in my opinion, be used to describe any sort of rain. It’s a lovely expression, since it attempts to put a positive spin on what most people would describe as miserable weather (a very British thing to do). Although I’m not sure about its origin, I expect the expression is suggesting that, if anyone is to be happy about the rain, it should be the ducks. After all, they are used to being wet. Rain to a duck is like… water off a duck’s back.