Raining cats and dogs is what it was doing yesterday, and all night long. The rain made me think of the expression, which made me wonder where the phrase came from originally.
After doing a little research, I find no one know for sure; but the best guess is in 17th century England, if the rain were heavy enough, it would flow down the filthy streets, carrying along dead animals. Eeuwww.
That in turn made me wonder where other colorful phrases came from. So I did a little more research and found these:
Beat Around the Bush: This most probably evolved from hunts where there were men specifically employed to beat the bushes with a stick, thus flushing out the birds for others to shoot. Thus the bush-beaters never get to the actual point of the hunt: killing the birds.
Under the Weather: This one is tougher. But it might come from travel by ship, when stormy weather made passengers seasick. They would head below decks where the rocking sensation wasn’t as strong. Thus, they were forced under (the deck by) the weather.
Off Your Rocker: This seems to have come from the days of electric trolleys, and the difficulty the motorman would have getting the contact wheel reconnected with the overhead wire when it had come disconnected, since once it was disconnected, it would no longer function.
Take It With a Grain of Salt: It’s possible this phrase goes all the way back to Pliny the Elder, who recommended taking a grain of salt as an antidote for poison.
What other expressions or idioms can you think of, and how did they originate? A fun avenue of research when you need a pleasant break.