Lingua Pluvia

A nation obsessed with all things meteorological might be expected to have more than a few words and phrases for rain, and Britain doesn't disappoint. Here is a light shower of words for precipitation

Is it siling down or is it merely a haar?

Is it siling down or is it merely a haar?


Also known, rather poetically, as a sea fret, haar is sea fog accompanied by very fine drizzle that creeps inland from the North Sea to the east coast of Scotland and northeast England. Undeniably atmospheric, a thick, chilly blanket of haar can hang around for days or disperse within hours.

siling down

Probably derived from sila, the Scandinavian word for sieve or strainer, siling down is a Yorkshire dialect phrase for heavy rainfall. In Ross Raisin’s 2008 novel God’s Own Country, Sam Marsdyke observes,“You’d have to be proper daft to go on a wander while it was siling down like this.”

raining cats and dogs

This oft-said phrase is believed to derive from the sight of dead cats and dogs being carried along the filthy streets of 18th-century London after heavy rain; a sight recorded by Jonathan Swift in A Description of a City Shower.

roostan hoger

The rain-sloshed, wind-lashed, almost treeless Orkney Islands off the north east tip of Scotland offer at least 20 descriptive terms for rain. Roostan hoger describes a steady, light drizzle. Other Orcadian words for describing the same type of rain include a murr, a hagger and a drivv.


Although one of the driest counties in Britain, Lincolnshire dialect is awash with words for rain, including dringey; a term that describes the kind of light rainfall that, despite your best efforts with umbrella and waterproofs, still somehow manages to leave you thoroughly soaked.

Brian Chapman is a freelance copywriter based in Kendal, Cumbria. He doesn’t climb mountains, swim in lakes or cycle uphill. He likes cities, people-watching and looking busy in coffee shops. He should probably live in London.






Lingua Pluvia featured in the third print edition of Ernest Journal, on sale now

Issue 3
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