As Right as Rain
Posted by - 10 Dec 15
Raining cats and dogs, pouring, or downright chucking it down. It rains on average for over 106 days a year here in Britain, so it goes without saying that we’ve developed a broad and varied lexicon for our much-loved subject of precipitation.
As a nation we’re renowned for our endless capacity for discussing the weather; we use beautifully, crazy descriptions such as ‘raining cats and dogs’ – a phrase that’s been used since the mid-seventeenth century, possibly referring to the description of two natural enemies not only falling heavily from the sky but fighting as they do so; a perfect description of the kind of rainstorm that leaves you running for cover.
The Met Office warns us of deluges, drizzle, scattered showers, wet spells and downpours, but there are plenty more words to be discovered. Have you ever, for example, looked out the window and shook your head at the ‘smirr’? If you have then you’ll know very well that it’s the fine, mist-like rain that is truly the bane of those who straighten their hair’s life.
• Cow-quaker: a sudden storm in May, after the cows have been turned out to pasture
• Letty: A Somerset term meaning enough rain to make outdoor work difficult. (To ‘let’ is to disallow)
• Plype: From the North East of Scotland, a sudden heavy shower
Our own research uncovered more; we’re rather fond of these beauties:
• Thunder-plump: An old Scottish word for a very heavy, sudden rain shower
• Mizzle: The Cornish word for misty drizzle
• Driech: A great Scottish description of our current drab, miserable weather
• Plothering: You might hear this onomatopoeic word in the Midlands during a heavy downpour
• Luttering: Absolutely pouring down
The inclement weather is all set to continue for some time. It’s going to be coming down in stair rods, siling, blashy, grizzerable, dimpsey, grumlie and downright shucky in some parts of the country.
Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison (Faber) due for release on March 3rd