When It Rains, It Pours: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 17, 2023

When someone says, "when it rains, it pours," they are expressing that when something good or bad happens, they happen all at once. This idiom captures the essence of an experience where events, usually unfortunate, occur simultaneously or in rapid succession.

In brief:

  • "When it rains, it pours," tells us that when trouble comes, it often comes all together.
  • It subtly communicates the feeling of being overwhelmed when multiple things go wrong at once.

What Does "When It Rains, It Pours" Mean?

The idiom "when it rains, it pours" effectively illustrates a situation where one problem is quickly followed by a series of additional problems. It has a metaphorical foundation in weather patterns - specifically, how a rain shower can quickly become a downpour. This is used to reflect life circumstances where things seem to go from bad to worse rapidly.

Key elements of the idiom's meaning:

  • "When it rains, it pours" generally signifies an accumulation of negative events.
  • It's typically used to convey the idea that problems or difficulties often occur together.
  • The idiom expresses the sentiment of a bad situation getting worse, with one problem leading to another.
  • Some synonyms for "when it rains, it pours" include "it never rains, but it pours," "misfortunes always come in by a door that has been left open for them," and "trouble comes in threes."

Where Does "When It Rains, It Pours" Come From?

The phrase has been around since the 1800s, although the original saying is, "It never rains, but it pours.” The Morton Salt Company popularized the saying in the early 20th century as part of an advertising campaign for their product which claimed to pour easily, even in damp conditions.

Historical Example

"And most true it is then, "that when it rains it pours;" for it seems as though the windows of heaven are opened."

- The Juvenile Missionary Magazine (and Annual), 1860

"When it rains, it pours as though a second flood were coming on; but pretty soon it stops short off, and the sun comes out as bright and pleasant as though it had not been clouded under in a month."

- The Fireside Teacher: Devoted to Home Culture , 1889

10 Examples of "When It Rains, It Pours" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • He’s in a rut. He lost his job and his car. When it rains, it pours for him.
  • They won the lottery and then discovered a long-lost relative had left them an inheritance. It seemed like when it rains, it pours.
  • When it rains, it pours, but you don’t need to deal with everything on your own. That's some food for thought.
  • After months of job hunting, she received three job offers in one week. Indeed, when it rains, it pours.
  • The overwhelming circumstances felt a bit too much, like the saying when it rains, it pours.
  • When a series of unfortunate events occurs, it often feels like when it rains, it pours.
  • This will work out soon. When it rains, it pours, but the sun will come out eventually.
  • After a streak of bad luck, he still believed in the saying when it rains, it pours but hoped for better days.
  • When it rains, it pours. And she can’t bear it anymore.
  • That was a gnarly ride. When it rains, it pours, huh?

Examples of "When It Rains, It Pours" in Pop Culture

The saying "when it rains, it pours" resonates in popular culture, with references in songs, films, and television series reflecting its relevance to human experiences.

Some notable examples include:

  • The song "When It Rains It Pours" by Luke Combs uses the phrase in a positive light to depict a stroke of good luck following a breakup.
  • "When It Rains, It Pours" by Sonnet O'Dell is a captivating book that revolves around the consequences of a fateful decision made by the main character, Cera.
  • "When It Rains It Pours" is the title of the second episode of the TV series Project Runway Canada (2007)
  • A quote from the 2009 book When It Rains by Angie Daniels: "'When it rains, it pours' tells us that when trouble comes, it often comes all together."
  • "When It Rains, It Pours" is a children's book written by Chatrin Pandrya and published in 2015. This delightful book introduces young readers to the whimsical and adventurous world of Nogi and Monj.

Other/Different Ways to Say "When It Rains, It Pours"

The idiom "when it rains, it pours" is universally understood, but there are other ways to convey a similar sentiment.

Here are a few alternatives:

  • It never rains, but it pours
  • Misfortunes usually come in batches
  • Troubles never come singly
  • Bad things come in threes
  • When trouble comes, it comes not in single spies but in battalions

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "When It Rains, It Pours"

  • What does "when it rains, it pours" mean?

The idiom "when it rains, it pours" typically conveys that when things start to go wrong, they go very wrong and multiple problems occur all at once.

  • What is the origin of "when it rains, it pours"?

The expression "when it rains, it pours" is widely believed to have been popularized by the Morton Salt Company as part of an advertising campaign in the early 20th century.

  • How can I use "when it rains, it pours" in a sentence?

You can use the phrase to convey the occurrence of multiple negative (or sometimes positive) events at once. For instance, "It sucks that they shut the door on you—when it rains, it pours!"

  • Is "when it rains, it pours" always negative?

Although it's most often used in a negative context to describe multiple misfortunes happening at once, the idiom "when it rains, it pours" can occasionally be used to reflect multiple good events occurring simultaneously.

  • What are some synonyms for "when it rains, it pours"?

Some alternatives include "troubles never come singly," "bad things come in threes," and "when trouble comes, it comes not in single spies but in battalions."

  • Can "when it rains, it pours" be used in formal contexts?

While it can be used in informal and conversational settings, "when it rains, it pours" is not usually found in formal or academic writing.

  • Does "when it rains, it pours" apply to positive situations?

While less common, the phrase can be applied to positive situations where one good event is followed by other favorable events.

  • Is "when it rains, it pours" an American or British idiom?

"When it rains, it pours" is commonly used in both American and British English, although the British equivalent is often phrased as "it never rains but it pours."

  • Can "when it rains, it pours" be used to describe a personal experience?

Yes, the phrase is often used to describe personal experiences, especially when an individual is facing several problems at once.

Final Thoughts About "When It Rains, It Pours"

The idiom "when it rains, it pours" reflects life's unpredictable ups and downs. It expresses how events, particularly unwelcome ones, can occur concurrently.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "When it rains, it pours" conveys the notion that events, especially negative ones, tend to happen simultaneously.
  • It is frequently used in both informal and casual conversations.
  • The phrase can sometimes reflect a sequence of positive events.
  • Though originally popularized in the United States, the idiom is understood and used in various English-speaking regions.
  • Alternatives to the phrase include "troubles never come singly" and "bad things come in threes."

"When it rains, it pours" highlights the fact that life's trials often seem to arrive all at once, just as a downpour of rain follows the first drop. But remember, as with any storm, the rain eventually stops, and the sun shines again.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy