If you’re learning American English, you probably know that the saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” means a heavy rainfall, not cats and dogs falling from the sky.

But you might not know that Americans use weather-related words and phrases to describe things other than the weather.

Below are five weather-based idioms you’re likely to hear from an American:

Break the ice

(© AP Images)

What it means: To get things started, particularly by means of a social introduction or conversation.
In conversation: “It can be difficult to break the ice at formal events.”


What it means: To generate many ideas quickly.
In conversation: “Before we began writing, our teacher asked us to brainstorm topics for our essays.”

Rain on (someone’s) parade

(© AP Images)

What it means: To spoil someone’s happy feelings.
In conversation: “I’m in a great mood, so don’t rain on my parade!”

Take (something) by storm

What it means: To overwhelm someone or something, often by becoming famous quickly or by spreading very rapidly.
In conversation: “The Beatles took the world by storm in the 1960s.”

When it rains, it pours


What it means: When something bad happens and other bad things happen soon after, making the situation worse.
In conversation: “Yesterday, my girlfriend broke up with me. Today, my car broke down on the way to work, and then my boss fired me. When it rains, it pours.”

Learn more

Other idioms common in everyday American speech include those derived from food, art and sports.

ShareAmerica offers a series of everyday conversations that include audio clips to help practice English. The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.