noun, often attributive
\ ˈrān How to pronounce rain (audio) \

Definition of rain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : water falling in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere
b : the descent of this water
c : water that has fallen as rain : rainwater
2a : a fall of rain : rainstorm
b rains plural : the rainy season
3 : rainy weather
4 : a heavy fall a rain of arrows


rained; raining; rains

Definition of rain (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to send down rain
2 : to fall as water in drops from the clouds
3 : to fall like rain soot and ash rained down

transitive verb

1 : to pour down
2 : to give or administer abundantly rained blows on his head
rain cats and dogs
: to rain heavily

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Examples of rain in a Sentence

Noun The weatherman forecasts rain for this afternoon. Everyone went inside when the rain began to fall. What the garden needs is a good, soaking rain. A light rain began to fall. There has been some flooding due to the recent heavy rains. We've had a week of rain. The rains came and flooded the valley. Verb Sparks from the fireworks rained on the field. The volcano rained ashes on the city.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If temperatures are high and the rains and irrigation are inadequate, the plant may stop maturing fruit that already is on the tree. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "Gardening: Growing figs, apples, pears and plums in your San Antonio backyard; what you need to know," 16 Jan. 2020 Current rain report from San Rafael: Raining heavily and very windy. Alejandro Serrano, SFChronicle.com, "Flood warnings issued for San Francisco, region as storm arrives," 16 Jan. 2020 But the fire danger has been diminished by rain this week in several areas. Washington Post, "Australia firefighters save world’s only rare dinosaur trees," 16 Jan. 2020 The snow will change over to rain by Saturday evening and overnight. Jennifer Gray, CNN, "Significant snow and ice will hit parts of US on Friday into the weekend," 16 Jan. 2020 Higher temperatures have caused sea levels to rise, making dangerous storm surges more likely and prompting hurricanes to dump more rain. Los Angeles Times, "2019 was the second-warmest year on record, NASA and NOAA say," 15 Jan. 2020 Snow will transition to ice and rain from northern Virginia to southeastern New York at the storm's peak, with up to a few inches of wintry mix likely for parts of the mid-Atlantic region, AccuWeather says. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "From 74 degrees to a foot of snow: Northeast US braces for storms after record-breaking warmth," 15 Jan. 2020 Standard equipment for the S includes 18-inch wheels, cloth seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, blind-spot monitoring, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Is Cheaper Than the Three-Row Atlas," 14 Jan. 2020 An uplift of ash and smoke, which then cools, creates a thunderstorm-like occurrence but without the rain. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Smoke from Australian wildfires will circle the entire world, NASA says," 14 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The roof of the building, which houses the state’s death row inmates, has holes that let rain pour into the facility. Jerry Mitchell, ProPublica, "Lawmakers Refused to Increase an Infamous Prison’s Funding. Then, Chaos Erupted.," 12 Jan. 2020 Now rains in parts of Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are expected for four to six more weeks. Arkansas Online, "Mudslides, floods kill 34 people in western Kenya," 23 Nov. 2019 The Iraqis instead used helicopters as gunships, raining steel and chemicals down on Kurdish positions, killing thousands and displacing many more. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "America Is Screwing the Kurds Yet Again," 7 Oct. 2019 The problem is typically wind, which jostles electric lines, raining sparks onto parched vegetation below. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Blame Utilities for Wildfires. But Blame Everyone Else Too," 14 June 2019 As bullets rained down, four of El Mencho’s followers were killed and three soldiers were injured. Beth Warren, courier-journal.com, "How a Mississippi trooper almost took down the world’s most powerful cartel boss," 25 Nov. 2019 Besides confirming that the water is not rain pooling in the crater, its composition can also tell researchers more about what’s happening deep underground where the volcano’s magma is. USA TODAY, "Pooch hit by car goes for ride, manatee rescued, unusual toilet paper roller: News from around our 50 states," 1 Nov. 2019 Even former Supervisor David Campos, who, in August demanded Shanti rescind its honor for the Republican-donating Wilsey, couldn’t rain on this parade. Catherine Bigelow, SFChronicle.com, "Homeless Prenatal Program founder cites ‘power of resilience’ at nonprofit’s anniversary," 15 Oct. 2019 Wildlife enthusiast David Ford captured the foreboding scene, which looks as though a plane full of frankfurters flung open the hatch and let the dogs rain down upon the unassuming shore. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Thousands of chunky, squirming innkeeper worms washed up on a California beach," 14 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rain


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for rain


Middle English reyn, from Old English regn, rēn; akin to Old High German regan rain

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Time Traveler for rain

Time Traveler

The first known use of rain was before the 12th century

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Statistics for rain

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rain.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rain%20cats%20and%20dogs. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for rain


How to pronounce rain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: water that falls in drops from clouds in the sky
: weather in which there is a lot of rain : rainy weather
: large amounts of rain that fall at a particular time of year



English Language Learners Definition of rain (Entry 2 of 2)

used with it to say that rain is falling
: to fall from above in large amounts
: to cause (something) to fall in large amounts


\ ˈrān How to pronounce rain (audio) \

Kids Definition of rain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : water falling in drops from the clouds
2 : a fall of water in drops from the clouds
3 : rainy weather “Are you going to sleep out in all this rain?”— E. B. White, Stuart Little
4 : a heavy fall of objects


rained; raining

Kids Definition of rain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to fall as water in drops from the clouds
2 : to send down rain The clouds rained for days.
3 : to fall in large amounts Ashes rained from the volcano.
4 : to give in large amounts Friends rained advice on me.
rain cats and dogs

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More from Merriam-Webster on rain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rain

Spanish Central: Translation of rain

Nglish: Translation of rain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rain for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rain

Comments on rain

What made you want to look up rain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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