Cats and dogs? Forecasters consider slang

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It might be “chucking it down” in Leeds and Newcastle, but it is “bucketing” in the Black Country.

That is according to research for the Met Office, as it considers introducing regional terms to weather forecasts.

A survey of 2,000 people in January found a variety of slang words were used to describe UK weather.

The Met Office said regions tended to interpret the same information differently and using regional slang could help people’s understanding.

Now it is appealing to the public to help them identify the words used to describe weather in their area and it has launched a #3wordweather on Twitter so words can be submitted.

Derrick Ryall, head of the public weather service at the Met Office, said: “We’re always looking to improve the way weather forecasts are communicated, to make them as useful as possible and increase their understanding.

“Ultimately we hope to use the insights from our research to tap into local dialects and vocabulary to make it easier for people across the UK to understand the forecast and make informed decisions based on it.”

‘Language diversity’

Researchers found that more than half of people in the Black Country reported that they used “bucketing” to describe heavy rain, but in Leeds and Newcastle, most would use “chucking it down”.

Those in Birmingham and Bristol use “tipping it down” and Londoners say “caning it”.

A fifth of people in Southampton claim to break into song when it rains heavily, performing renditions of “it’s raining, pouring, the old man is snoring”.

But “pouring” was found to be the most popular term to describe heavy rain nationally.

Popular terms for heavy rain

  • Pouring (down)
  • Chucking (it)
  • Lashing (down)
  • Tipping (it down)
  • Bucketing (down)
  • Raining cats and dogs
  • The heavens have opened
  • Properly (raining)
  • (It’s raining) Torrents

Source: Met Office

Mr Ryall said: “The range of slang for rain alone demonstrates the breadth and diversity of the English language and the varying terminology used across different parts of the UK.”

A range of weather words have been suggested on social media.

Your comments

An expression in this area; now I suspect hardly ever used is “it’s black orr Bill’s mothers”. This was when the sky was darkening ahead of a thunderstorm. I have met people who also knew this who lived in Leicester and another from Humberside. My wife’s family from County Durham used the term “it’s stotting it down” to describe rain that was so heavy the rain was bouncing off the ground. Stephen Veasey, Nottingham

We have some excellent terms for weather up here in the north-east of Scotland from “driech”, “smirrie rain”, “it’s fair dinging doon”, “blawing a hoolie”, “it’s minging outside” and probably heaps more. Sarah Kirkwood, Aberdeen

I have lived in York for more than 21 years (born in Sussex) and a word which is commonly used to describe the weather being exceptionally cold here is “nithering”. York is nithering for much of the year. Claire Sansford, York

I’ve lived in London for almost 30 years and have never heard “caning it”. Where I’m from in Cheshire, we’d say “slinging it down” or “tipping it down”. I wonder if the British have as many words for rain as Eskimos famously have for snow? Paula Dempsey, London

In Scarborough, heavy rain is often “siling” – this may have Norse origins. If it’s hot, it’s “mafting” and you may be said to be “mafted”. And if it’s miserable – or if someone you know is – “dowly “. Mat Watkinson, Scarborough

I don’t know where it comes from but we always said “it is raining stair rods” when it was really heavy. Another which is I assume is more common is “good weather for ducks”. As a child I have heard but not actually used it much in anger is the term “Noah’s day” if it rained or was forecast to rain heavy for all or most of the day. Philip Robinson, Lincolnshire

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Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

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