This question on English.StackExchange made me wonder about words for rain in Spanish. In English, a light rain can be a drizzle, sprinkle, or mist and a heavy rain can be a deluge, downpour, or pouring rain.

What similar words in Spanish are used to describe different types of rainfall?


Click the nouns to view the definition on the RAE:

  • Llovizna: the correspondent for "drizzle", a "weak" rain;
  • Aguacero: abundant, sudden rain, that lasts for a short time;
  • Chubasco: like "downpour", same as aguacero and chaparrón;
  • Chaparrón: "tough" rain that lasts for a short time;
  • Diluvio: Very strong rain, or "flood";

See this page on Spanish.about.com for more weather-related terms.

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  • 1
    diluvio literally means deluge. – vartec Dec 2 '11 at 9:49
  • 1
    Two words for llovizna: calabobos (literally, fool-drencher, because it looks like it's raining just a little bit, but you end up completely wet) and sirimiri (used in the Basque Country) – MikMik Dec 29 '11 at 9:48
  • I had forgotten jarrear for "to rain heavily". Also, "caer chuzos" or "caer chuzos de punta". – MikMik Dec 29 '11 at 12:07
  • Does anyone know what ‘está sisniendo’ means in this context? I suspect mis-spelling on the part of the person who wrote it to me; he explained he meant ‘lloviendo suave’ but I haven’t been able to track down what ‘sisniendo’ might actually be. He’s Cuban, if that helps – Traveller Oct 4 at 15:32

Two colloquial phrases from Costa Rica I recently learned from spanishpod101 are related to this:

Son pelitos de gato nada mas

Translates to: "It's just little cat hairs". Meaning it's only light rain/drizzle

San Pedro esta corriendo los muebles

Translates to "St Peter is moving the furniture around". Meaning there is a big storm.

Here is the link to the podcast: http://www.spanishpod101.com/2008/06/10/regional-spanish-series-61-costa-rican-18-st-peters-moving-the-furniture/

Please note: I am not specifically intending to promote this website. If anyone feels it is not appropriate to link to sites like this, please let me know.

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For light rain 'chispeando' (from 'chispa' = spark) can be used, altho I think it's probably more slang than an actual word.

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Here are a couple more:

chipi chipi (Mexico): a faint drizzle; example: --¿Está lloviendo? --Nomás está chipi chipi.

neblina: mist

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