Inspired by sandwriter's recent post on soggy Ayrshire winters, and being reminded of the chat a few years ago about the number of words the Inuit have for snow ( it started on the publication of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow , where the main character was an expert on snow and apparently described nine Inuit words for snow), I thought I'd have a go at a little rain experiment.
When the debate on the Inuit snow thing was ongoing, I remember feeling very inadequate. It was one of those cases where indigenous people seemed to be more in tune with the natural world than we urbanized gas-guzzlers - it affected them more, so they had a more plentiful vocabulary to describe it. But recently, I realised that we Scots have a not inconsiderable number of words for rain and the act of raining. After reading sandwriter talk about her experience of her first winter in the soggy Ayrshire countryside I thought I'd have a go at listing all the words I know of in current use to describe the plentiful rain that we endure here in Scotland.
Quite often we describe the action, rather than the quality of the rain itself, so we have lots and lots of verbs. Right, here we go:
the rain itself can be: damp, wet, smirr, spots, drizzle, shower, rain, downpour, torrential, cataract,
the action can be: pelting, spitting, coming down in stair-rods, raining cats and dogs, pouring, teeming, driving, bucketing, chucking it down, throwing it down, tipping it down, horizontal, lashing,
and one can be drenched, drookit, saturated, soaked, wringing wet, by rain
I make that 28 different unique words and phrases for rain and its effects. And that's without going into the delights of sleet and hail, mist and haar.
I'll add to the list as thoughts occur to me (or as I get soaked, drenched or saturated by the damn stuff!) And if anyone can think of any words - British or not, let me know. Maybe we could start a celebratory dictionary of rain!