Britain is known as a rainy country, despite the fact that it doesn’t get any more rain than say, Seattle. But it’s true that Britain is very wet. Their soggy maritime climate has shaped their history and culture, and it’s no surprise that like the Inuit with multiple words to describe snow, the British also have many different phrases to describe the different kinds of rain. Here are our favorites.
Pissing down – In America, variations of the word ‘piss’ are considered quite coarse language, it’s not so in Britain, it’s a much softer connotation. Pissing down is torrential rain.
Bucketing down – A nice way of saying ‘pissing down’ – raining very hard.
Tipping Down – Raining heavily.
Mizzly – A common Cornish phrase for rain – it’s a misty rain that seems to settle on the landscape. It’s doesn’t feel like it’s actively raining, but everything is wet.
Spitting – Very light rain – with only a few drops at a time.
Plothering – A phrase often used in the Midlands or Northeast that describes is heavy rain that, well, plothers (the sound it makes hitting the ground).
Lovely weather for ducks! – A jovial phrase that the terrible weather must be good for something at least – like Ducks.
It’s chucking it down – Heavy and constant rain.
It’s siling/syling down (N. England) – A heavy rain.
Sea Fret – A wet mist or haze that comes inland from the sea (see Mizzly)
Smirr – A Scottish term for an extremely fine and misty rain that comes from a poem by George Campbell Hay.
Scotch mist – A thick mist and drizzling rain.
Letty – A West Country term that says that there is just enough rain to make outdoor work impossible (coming from a word that once meant disallow).
Cow-quaker – A sudden massive rainstorm characteristic during the month of May when the cows are traditionally let back on the fields.
Snell – A Scottish phrase for a very, very cold rain.
Smizzle – A Scottish phrase for a light rain.
Duke of Spain – Cockney Ryhming Slang for rain.
Raining forks’tiyunsdown’ards – A colorful Lincolnshire phrase meaning heavy rain like it’s raining pitchforks.