100 British Words for Rain

In the UK, we talk incessantly about the weather. In a recent study, 94% of British people admitted to having talked about the weather in the past six hours, and 38% in the last hour.

There are a few reasons for this.

rainy-alston-300x143 100 British Words for Rain
In my hometown, two thirds of the days are rainy!

The first is that we have a LOT of weather. In my hometown of Alston in northern England, it rains 244 days a year. That means more than 2 out of 3 days are rainy!

Another reason is a bit less obvious. British people are famously inhibited. We have trouble starting conversations. But with a simple sentence like “Lovely weather for ducks, eh?”, we immediately start a conversation that everyone can get involved in, and agree with. Weather is our perfect icebreaker, and our doorway into deeper conversation.

So it might not surprise you just how much language we have for talking about rain.
Here are 100 words and phrases used in the various dialects of British English:

General nouns

  1. Rain

    rainy-alston-300x143 100 British Words for Rain
    A common view in England
  2. Precipitation
  3. Wet weather
  4. The wet
  5. Shower (brief rain)
  6. Squall (brief rain)
  7. Torrent (heavy rain)
  8. Downpour (heavy rain)
  9. Deluge (heavy rain)
  10. Drizzle (light rain)
  11. Mizzle (misty rain)
  12. Sleet (icy rain)
  13. Monsoon (heavy summer rain)
  14. Cloudburst (sudden heavy rain)
  15. Sunshower (rain that interrupts a sunny day)
  16. Flurry (wave of rain)
  17. Volley (brief heavy rain)
  18. Thunderstorm (rain with lightning)
  19. Onslaught (very heavy rain)

Phrases

  1. It’s raining cats and dogs (heavy rain)
  2. It’s raining sideways (rain with excessive wind)
  3. Driving rain (rain with excessive wind)
  4. Nice weather for ducks! (any rain that last long enough to make puddles)
  5. The heavens have opened (sudden heavy rain)
  6. It’s pattering (light rain with large droplets)
  7. It’s sprinkling (very light rain)
  8. It’s spitting (light rain)
  9. It’s spluttering (light rain, sometimes the beginning of a shower)
  10. It’s trickling (light rain)
  11. It’s teeming (heavy rain)
  12. It’s chucking it down, (heavy rain)
  13. It’s pouring/pouring down (heavy rain)
  14. It’s pelting (it) down (heavy rain)
  15. It’s lashing (it) down (heavy rain)
  16. It’s pelting (it) down (heavy rain)
  17. It’s hammering (it) down (heavy rain)
  18. It’s tipping (it) down, (heavy rain)
  19. It’s tippling (it) down (heavy rain)
  20. It’s thrashing (it) down (heavy rain)
  21. It’s throwing it down (heavy rain)
  22. It’s beating down (heavy rain)
  23. Drumming down (heavy rain, heard through a roof)
  24. It’s pissing (it) down (heavy rain)
  25. It’s peeing (it) down (heavy rain)
  26. It’s coming down in buckets/bucketloads (heavy rain)
  27. It’s coming down it torrents (heavy rain)
  28. It’s coming down in sheets (heavy rain)
  29. It’s a soaker (rain that soaks though any clothes)
  30. It’s raining stair rods (painfully heavy rain)
  31. It’s raining chair legs (painfully heavy rain)
  32. It’s raining like a cow reliving itself (heavy rain)
  33. Liquid sunshine (rain on a sunny day)
  34. It’s a drencher (rain that soaks though to the bone)
  35. Raining upwards (rain that bounces and hits you from below)
  36. It’s getting biblical out there (rain so heavy it makes you want to build an ark)

Regional

  1. It’s siling/syling down (N. England, heavy rain)
  2. It’s plothering down (Midlands and N. England, heavy rain, large droplets with no wind)
  3. Sea fret (N. England, mizzle from the sea)
  4. It’s maumy (N. English/Scottish)
  5. It’s mochy (N. Irish/Scottish)
  6. It’s soft weather (N. Irish)
  7. Hurley Burley (England, Thunderstorm)
  8. It’s hossin’ (Cumbrian, heavy rain)
  9. It’s yukken it doon (Cumbrian, heavy rain)
  10. It’s hoyin it doon (Cumbrian, heavy rain
  11. Plash (Northumberland, downpour)
  12. It’s streaking (especially with excessive wind)
  13. It’s airish (Scottish)
  14. It’s dreich (Scottish)
  15. Smizzle (Scottish, light rain)
  16. Bleeter (Scottish, brief rain)
  17. Bald (Squall accompanied by heavy rain)
  18. Smirr (Scottish, fine, misty rain)
  19. Plum shower (Scottish, sudden rain)
  20. Snell (Scottish, very cold rain)
  21. Goselet (Scottish, heavy rain)
  22. Krammy (Scottish, close, find drizzly)
  23. Peeggirin (Scottish, a storming shower)
  24. Scotch mist (Scottish, soaking mist)
  25. Yillen (Scottish, shower of rain, especially with wind)
  26. The smoky smirr o rain (Scottish, very light Drizzle)
  27. It’s teeming from the heavens (N. Irish)
  28. It’s letty (Somerset, enough rain to make outdoor work difficult)
  29. It’s lattin (Shropeshire, enough rain to make outdoor work difficult))
  30. It’s luttering down (England, heavy rain)
  31. Dibble (Shropshire, slow rain)
  32. Cow-quaker (England, rainstorm so heavy the cows shake)
  33. Duke of Spain (Cockney rhyming slang)
  34. Ache and pain (Cockney rhyming slang)
  35. Pleasure and pain (Cockney rhyming slang)
  36. Misla (Shelta/Irish traveller)
  37. It’s basking (E. Anglia)
  38. Bange (E. Anglia)
  39. A dag of rain (E.Anglia, brief)
  40. Drisk (Cornwall, misty drizzle)
  41. It’s black o’er by Bill’s mother’s (Midlands, “looks like it’s going to rain”)
  42. It’s juggin (Lincolnshire, steady rain)
  43. It’s mothery (Lincolnshire)
  44. Harle (Lincolnshire, Drizzle from the sea)
  45. Raining forks’tiyunsdown’ards  (Lincolnshire, heavy like it’s raining pitchforks)

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rainy-alston-300x143 100 British Words for Rain

One Reply to “100 British Words for Rain”

  1. Wow, I had no idea you could use so many phrases for rain!! 😀 I like the “streaking” one the most, haha. So many words that are not in my American English vocabulary, but I’m definitely catching up actually living in the UK now!!

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