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Met Office weather forecasts: What slang do you use?


Regional slang words for different types of weather are being considered for weather forecasts, the Met Office has said.

Its research found a variety of slang words were used to describe UK weather. Here are some that have been submitted by readers to BBC News.

'It is raining stair rods'

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I don't know where it comes from but we always said "it is raining stair rods" when it was really heavy. Another which is I assume is more common is "good weather for ducks". As a child I have heard - but not actually used it much in anger - is the term "Noah's day" if it rained or was forecast to rain heavy for all or most of the day. Philip Robinson, Lincolnshire

The analogy for the term "it is raining stair rods" is the rain falling in long, straight streaks.

The German and French languages have words using the imagery of ropes or cord to do the same thing.

'It's looking a bit black over Bill's mother's'

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An expression in this area; now, I suspect, hardly ever used is "it's black orr Bill's mother's". This was when the sky was darkening ahead of a thunderstorm. I have met people who also knew this who lived in Leicester and another from Humberside. My wife's family from County Durham used the term "it's stotting it down" to describe rain that was so heavy it was bouncing off the ground. Stephen Veasey, Nottingham

"It's a bit black over Bill's mother" - when dark clouds were gathering. This could be from any direction, which initially led me to believe Bill's mother was on the move. Alan, Kent

This is a phrase often heard in the English Midlands. Some believe "Bill" refers to William Shakespeare, whose mother Mary Arden lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

But another theory is "Bill" actually refers to Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German emperor and king of Prussia, who abdicated at the end of World War One. Germany's foreign policy at that time echoed Wilhelm's changeable and blustering character, according to the Open University.

'Mae hi'n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn' - 'It's raining old ladies and sticks'

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In Wales we say "Mae hi'n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn" which literally means "It's raining old ladies and sticks". David Goadby, Pwllheli, north Wales

Used to describe heavy rain, the English equivalent is "it is raining cats and dogs".

Is it 'tipping it down', 'slinging it down' or 'teeming'?

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I am over 60 and a south-east Londoner but have never heard heavy rain described as "caning it". I have, however, heard on many occasions when there is serious rain the words "totally torrential", "tipping it down" and "inundated", and to a lesser extent "the clouds have materialised". Daphne Cunningham, London

I've lived in London for almost 30 years and have never heard "caning it". Where I'm from in Cheshire, we'd say "slinging it down" or "tipping it down". I wonder if the British have as many words for rain as Eskimos famously have for snow? Paula Dempsey, London

What a splendid way to preserve our dialects and adages. In the Sunderland and Newcastle area heavy rain "teeming down" is the expression - "chucking down" is another. Anthony Bird

'Blowing a hoolie'

We have some excellent terms for weather up here in the north-east of Scotland from "driech", "smirrie rain", "it's fair dinging doon", "blowing a hoolie", "it's minging outside" and probably heaps more. Sarah Kirkwood, Aberdeen

'There's enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers'

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I grew up and spent most of my life in Kent. My childhood was spent on a farm my father managed and I later went into farming myself where the topic of the weather was never far away.

Here are some of my favourite descriptions for the weather that I picked up on the way:

  • "Here comes Old Phoebe" - the sun is coming out.
  • "It's damping about a bit" - my father's expression for drizzle, usually meaning it wasn't wet enough to stop outdoor work
  • "It's cold enough for a walking stick" - meaning there would be ice and a walking stick might be useful for the less agile
  • "There's enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers" - said after rain when the sky starts to clear
  • Fifty words for rain

'Nesh' and 'Nithering'

If you are cold in Nottingham you are feeling a bit "nesh" This can be directed at the weather: "Oh it's gonna be nesh in the morning." Zoe Johnson, Nottingham

I have lived in York for more than 21 years (born in Sussex) and a word which is commonly used to describe the weather being exceptionally cold here is "nithering". York is nithering for much of the year. Claire Sansford, York


In Scarborough, heavy rain is often "siling" - this may have Norse origins. If it's hot, it's "mafting " and you may be said to be "mafted ". And if it's miserable - or if someone you know is - "dowly ". Mat Watkinson, Scarborough

Related Topics

  • Met Office
  • Weather forecasting

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