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What is the meaning of the word "rain-maker"? How did this originate?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Rain-maker or rainmaker originates from native American tribal magicians (etymonline) and has come into English language around 1775.

It is used of a professional that is great in his field (seemingly magical) or somebody believed to be able to produce rain. Especially somebody generating a great deal.

See The Free Dictionary

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I've always understood it to mean someone who brings business to a firm, as a literal rainmaker might bring rain to a farmer's crops. (As in the definition following your link and looking at the "Thesaurus" part of the page.) – Wayne May 23 '11 at 17:28

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