My impression is "It's raining cats and dogs" is old-fashioned. Is that right? If I used it, would people think I'm 70 years old, or something like that?

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    General reference. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 26 '13 at 22:38
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    It's an idiom that means it is raining very very hard. – John Lawler Oct 26 '13 at 22:50
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    I, and many others, use it all the time, though somewhat with tongue-in-cheek, precisely for the reason of its sounding a bit old-fashioned today. But, it being still widely used, who's to know whether you're an old fogie using it straight or a youngster using it "figuratively-figuratively"? And vice versa. – Talia Ford Oct 27 '13 at 0:35
  • This phrase will never know obsolescence for generations to come. When you tell it to your children for the first time, and then to your grandchildren, and then to the little kids in your neighbourhood, and then to their little grandchildren ... they would snicker in amusement and then you'd hear them use it when it rains. – Blessed Geek Oct 27 '13 at 5:26

It's not like saying "the cat's pajamas" or "23 skiddoo". We still use it — in informal speech. You're not likely to hear it on the TV weather report, though.

It's definitely an idiom: heavy rains have nothing to do with cats and dogs — who definitely do not fall from the sky. Here's a British website explaining the origin:

The first appearance of the currently used version is in Jonathan Swift’s A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation in 1738:

"I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs".

  • I think it sounds considerably less dated than "the cat's pajamas" or "23 skiddoo", personally. – snailcar Oct 27 '13 at 18:28

While there may be generational differences, this ngram suggests that the phrase is not yet in serious decline, at least in the books Google samples. In fact, there appears to be a steady increase from 1975 through at least 2005.

  • Yes, general reference, as already stated above (including the Ngram link). – Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '13 at 8:01

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