Ron Colone: 'It's raining cats and dogs' and other sayings

Ron Colone: 'It's raining cats and dogs' and other sayings

Ron Colone


Occasionally I like to scan through a list of odds-and-ends trivia that appears on a website I sometimes visit. I was doing so today, when I came across one that read: On July, 2, 1843, (according to a story that ran in the Charleston Mercury newspaper, which then was republished in both the Times Picayune in New Orleans and the New York Evening Post) an alligator fell from the sky in Charleston, South Carolina, during a thunderstorm.

Upon reading it, the first thing that came to mind was the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs,” so I did a quick search to try and learn the origin of that saying. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find it.

Oh sure, there were various speculations. One was that it had to do with animal corpses that washed out of drainpipes during heavy rainstorms in 17th-Century Europe. Another explanation was that cats and dogs may be a corruption of the Greek word Katadoupoi, which refers to waterfalls on the Nile. Neither of these, nor any of the other explanations, sounded especially accurate or reliable to me.

All of the sources I consulted agreed, that the term is not to be taken literally, and that you don’t need a weatherman to know that cats and dogs raining down from the sky is implausible, which is what prompted me to go – "oh yeah, then what about those cows that go flying by in the tornado in The Wizard of Oz?"

Yeah, I know that was what passed for special effects in 1939, but there are plenty of reports of farm animals, motorized vehicles and even houses blowing around during severe twisters, so why not cats and dogs?

As for alligators, I used to work for a guy who often used the phrase, “up to my eyeballs in alligators.” Granted, he was from Florida and seemed to have a special kinship with gators, or at least the thought of gators. Or maybe it was just a fondness for the University of Florida football team. But I always took it to mean that he was extremely busy, pressured and harassed by all the distractions, deadlines, obligations and responsibilities he faced.

I had another boss, one of his favorite sayings was “like a heat-seeking missile.” He used it often to describe one of the aggressive managers in our company, and it fit too. Once she set her sights on something, she went after it and she didn’t stop until she got what she was after.

These days, I often take long walks with my sister, and I’ve noticed she frequently uses the phrase, “piece of cake,” which means “easy,” as in “easily accomplished.” A similar saying is “easy as pie.”

Then there’s this other dear friend who is renowned among those close to her for the colorful sayings that roll off her tongue organically; so much so that the people she works with put together a book of her sayings as a birthday present. One that I recall her using is, “He crawled up my backside and pitched a tent,” to describe someone who was demanding of her attention.

I guess I’ve always been amused by sayings, which, I suppose, is why I took interest in an article I came across entitled “The President’s most popular phrases.” They analyzed the content of speeches he delivered over a several-month period and determined that, based on the number of times he used it, his favorite saying is, “Believe me.”

It reminds me of the poster for the movie “Blazing Saddles,” which showed writer/director Mel Brooks (who played Governor Lepetomane) adorned in an Indian headdress, his face on a Indian Head nickel. In place of the phrase “In God we Trust,” it read, “I’m Mel; trust me.”

I'm more willing to accept the possibility of alligators, cats and dogs falling from the sky, but I’m not so gullible as to believe a liar (unless it's me).

Ron Colone can be reached at


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

DEAR ABBY: My husband of nearly 22 years and I divorced last year after he told me he didn't want to be married anymore and didn't know if he ever loved me. Since our split, he has bought a home with another woman -- the same woman I suspected him of having an affair with, and the same woman he encouraged me to befriend during our marriage. 

DEAR ABBY: My longtime friend "Bonnie" and I have been reconnecting during COVID, mostly via text and video chatting. She's recently moved back to my area (she's in the military), so we spent a weekend together helping her move in. It was exhausting and stressful, and her drinking concerned me. I know drinking is prevalent in the military, and as a relatively high-ranking officer, she's under a lot of pressure all the time.

DEAR ABBY: I am 43, and my boyfriend is 40. He is always at my house, but I can never go to his to sit around and relax. When I get upset about it and want to talk to him about it, he tells me that's not the case at all. I'm welcome anytime. But when I suggest it, I am always turned down. I'm trying hard to be optimistic, but I have so many negative thoughts about this. What should I do? -- KEPT OUT IN ALABAMA

DEAR ABBY: I'm in my early 30s. I live and work in a beach town and visit the ocean often on my time off. I have a large tattoo on my side, and while it's tasteful and well done, it depicts nudity (an angel). It's always covered by a shirt and never exposed at work.-- TATTED IN FLORIDA

DEAR ABBY: I'm in high school. My boyfriend lives across the country in a different state. He is a teenager, too. I have asked people for advice about this before and mostly gotten the same answer. They say, "Wait 'til you're older," or, "Your mom is just looking out for you." I don't believe it. -- STRUGGLING IN PENNSYLVANIA

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alert

Breaking News