Expression explained: It is raining cords


Last week it rained a lot. It made us want to explain an expression of rigor to you, in its French version but also in its English version!

Why do we say "it's raining ropes" to mean that it's raining hard? The expression dates from the 18th century and refers to an optical phenomenon. Does retinal persistence speak to you? Do you remember those little children's notebooks? On the first page, a cage, on the second a bird and over the pages the bird advances on the page. We grab the little notebook, we scroll through the pages between our fingers and the miracle happens, the bird comes to life before our eyes. He comes out of the cage and flies away. A series of fixed images that pass quickly before our eyes gives the illusion of a movement that does not exist in reality. The image you have just seen is linked to the one you are looking at at the moment T. It is on this principle that cinema works and it is also this phenomenon which can explain the expression "it is raining ropes". . When the rain falls very hard and in large quantities, your eyes only perceive the general movement. Your brain no longer distinguishes the drops separately, the movement is too fast and the quantity too large. Added to this is the fact that the drops are in motion. Your eye then works like a camera set to a long pause time. What you see is the image of a long stream of water, a rope, ropes… The English equivalent is quite funny since it says “it rains cats and dogs”. The English version would have two possible origins. The first would come from the fact that, in the past, domestic animals slept in the attic. However, the roofs being often in poor condition when it rained, the animals ran to take refuge on the floor below, in the rooms with the inhabitants of the house. The second possible origin comes straight from the 16th century. At the time, the cities were particularly dirty and waste often covered the streets. It was not uncommon, on the contrary, to come across the carcasses of domestic animals that had been thrown there with the other waste. When you passed in the street, you could have the impression that it had rained cats and dogs just before. Let’s dwell on the first explanation, much cuter… _NB


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