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In English, if it is raining very heavily, you could say that it is 'raining cats and dogs'.

Is there an equivalent in Spanish?

Does Spanish use 'cats and dogs? If not why something different?

5 Answers 5

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Llover a cántaros

a cántaros 1. loc. adv. En abundancia, con mucha fuerza. Llover, caer, echar a cántaros.

being cántaro a (large) pitcher.

Also, at least in Spain, caer chuzos or caer chuzos de punta and llover chuzos or llover chuzos de punta

caer chuzos, o caer chuzos de punta
1. locs. verbs. coloqs. Llover, granizar o nevar con mucha fuerza o ímpetu.

llover chuzos, o llover chuzos de punta
1. locs. verbs. coloqs. Llover con mucha fuerza o ímpetu.

being chuzo a spiked stick.

Also jarrear

  1. intr. impers. Llover copiosamente.

and llover a más y mejor

a más y mejor 1. loc. adv. Denota intensidad o plenitud de acción. Llover a más y mejor.

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  • That's very interesting; is there a specific reason why those words are used? Is there an etymological link somewhere? Oct 16, 2016 at 20:54
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    @BladorthinTheGrey: "cántaro" besides being a large pitcher is also de volumen of liquid it contains; thus "llover a cántaros" would indicate that it is raining heavily. As for "chuzo", when it is raining very heavily, the raindrops can hit hard, as if it were a stick
    – user13560
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:07
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Besides the examples given above, two observations:

Caer chuzos de punta

There seems to be a common theme of things falling from the sky point first (de punta) as a simile for heavy rain. In Spain the word chuzo is found, which the meaning of "stick with a metallic point". In Argentina the same word can be used with this pattern, though it's not so common and it means "small jury-rigged knife". The Portuguese cognate chuço means "spear" or "pike". Coincidentally, Brazilian Portuguese employs the simile chover canivetes, where canivete means "penknife" (this word exists also in Spanish, though I doubt it's in wide use.)

Caer [...] de punta as an insult in Argentina

On top of the above, there is in Argentina a tendency to replace chuzos with obscene or escatological references. On top of that there has been an interesting development: since the pattern caer 𝒙 de punta expects 𝒙 to be a reference to some disagreable object, people in social media are now replacing 𝒙 by names of public people they dislike (typically politicians). Googling for this I just found an Argentinian Twitter user who, on the occasion of some observations of Podemos politician Íñigo Errejón about Argentina's government, tweeted: "Están cayendo errejones de punta".

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The closest ones would be:

Being exaggerated we could also say:

  • Está cayendo la de Dios
  • Está cayendo el diluvio universal
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It will be better if you use expressions like "está lloviendo a cántaros", or "está diluviando", since those are more common expressions than "llover a más y mejor" or "caer chuzos de punta" or "llueve a mares". In fact, if you say something like that in Argentina, you will look like a crazy dude, and with the "chuzo" expression... well, the word doesn't even exist here.

So, stay with "lloviendo a cántaros" or "está diluviando" (or simply "está lloviendo mucho"). It's far more neutral.

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  • That's the reason I wrote "... in Spain...". Additionally, the word chuzo is in the DRAE (dle.rae.es/?id=97YDR14) though it may not be widely used in Argentina as you state.
    – user13560
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:01
  • Un argentino entiende perfectamente "llover a mares" porqué he usado esa frase con ellos y no hubo caras se perplejidad. Lo de llover a chuzos, no lo sabía ni yo (que soy de Barcelona). Es curiosa la frase.
    – user11977
    Oct 17, 2016 at 18:56
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    @Laiv: nuncha he oido lo de "llover chuzos": lo encontré en el DRAE. En cambio "caer chuzos" y especialmente "caer chuzos de punta" si lo he oido con frecuencia
    – user13560
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:49
  • Ya puede ser. Lloviendo a mares tp es muy común, pero mis abuelos la usaban mucho.
    – user11977
    Oct 19, 2016 at 17:14
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Good answers here already, but I'd like to add another way to talk about a downpour:

aguacero -- which is an extremely heavy downpour

Examples:

Me agarró un aguacero | I got caught in a tremendous downpour

Está cayendo un aguacero | It's raining cats and dogs

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