Supposedly, there are two origins for this expression:

  • One supposed origin is that the phrase derives from mythology. Dogs and wolves were attendants to Odin, the god of storms, and sailors associated them with rain. Witches, who often took the form of their familiars - cats, are supposed to have ridden the wind. Well, some evidence would be nice. There doesn't appear to be any to support this notion.

  • It has also been suggested that cats and dogs were washed from roofs during heavy weather.

So it always made me wonder, if in Portuguese people thought of a similar way to describe a heavy rain. Specially if it involves cats and dogs...

4 Answers 4


The most similar expressions in Portuguese I can think of are:

However, the intended meaning would be someone up in the sky pouring down water from big pots, or jugs full of it, repeatedly.

It seems Portuguese language was not influenced by those origins to describe a heavy rain as "cats and dogs" falling from the sky.

  • 2
    Português europeu creio eu. No Brasil, nunca ouvi nenhuma dessas expressões. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 16:27
  • @VictorStafusa Mas parece que já foram usadas no Brasil. São as duas comuns em autores do século XIX. Exemplo: «Messias fechou [a janelinha] declarando, com a sua voz macia e imperturbável: " Que chovia a potes " » - Coelho Neto, Turbilhão, 1906.
    – Jacinto
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:09
  • "chovia a cântaros" is less common than "chovendo canivetes", but still used in Rio de Janeiro by older folks.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 2:18

Another expression used, at least in Brazil (as far as I know), is:

"chover canivetes"

which roughly translates to "raining pocket knives", or "raining penknives". This page (in portuguese) makes a quick discussion on "raining cats and dogs" vs "chovendo canivetes" vs "chovendo a cântaros" (as pointed in Armfoot's answer).

  • 1
    The theme of pointed objects as similes for rain seems to be common to Spanish and Portuguese: a traditional equivalent of this in Spanish is llover/caer chuzos de punta, where chuzo is a small blade (cf. Port. chuço) and de punta means "point first".
    – pablodf76
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 0:20
  • And for when it's truly raining a lot there's the chover canive aberto.
    – stafusa
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 23:54
  • @pablodf76, in Portuguse chuço is not a small blade, it's a sort of lance: «Pau armado de ponta aguda de ferro» (see definition of chuço in Priberam dictionary). A quick search tells me it might mean the same in Spanish.
    – ANeves
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 14:22
  • "chovendo canivetes" is current usage where I'm from.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 2:15

Brazil is a big country and, in each region, there are lots of different slangs. These are the ones I usually hear:

  • está caindo o mundo ("the world is falling down")
  • toró (slang for "really heavy storm")

In São Paulo, people say: "Está caindo um pé d'água!"


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