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Author Topic: The Devil beats his wife?
Enjal
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Whenever it was raining and the sun happened to peek through the clouds, my grandmother would always say "the devil's beating his wife!". This greatly upset me as a child (as mentioned in this thread. I've also gotten some strange looks from friends when I've repeated the phrase out of habit.

Has anyone else ever heard this? Or does anyone know where it may have come from?

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Silence Dogood
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I heard this too when I was a kid. My mother would say it (just to be silly, of course - she didn't really believe it [Smile] ).

I still say it today.

Don't know where it comes from, though. Guess it means something along the lines of a "mixed blessing" - i.e., a wife-beating is bad (raining) but since it's the DEVIL's wife, it may be okay (sunshine). [Confused]

Silence "has the devil stopped beating his wife?" Dogood

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moonlight
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Um, I've never heard that in my life and I find it very disturbing. I'm going to bed now but if anyone wants to find out the origin, I'd really love to know.

moon "I've heard of angels bowling...but this?" light

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Ang
I Saw Three Shipments


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(my first ever post)

My mom and aunts used to say that too. I think they got it from their mom.

Also when I was little my mom and her sisters would say if it rains on the day of someones funeral, that means they are going to heaven. I know this isn't true, but even now when there is a funeral I always hope for (and always get) rain.

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Nofret
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Enjal of Death:
Whenever it was raining and the sun happened to peek through the clouds, my grandmother would always say "the devil's beating his wife!". This greatly upset me as a child (as mentioned in this thread. I've also gotten some strange looks from friends when I've repeated the phrase out of habit.

Has anyone else ever heard this? Or does anyone know where it may have come from?

I heard it while I was growing up.

As to origins:

http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/14/messages/219.html

devil is whipping his wife Said when it rains while the sun is shining; the rain is supposed to represent the tears of the devil's wife.

From _The Facts on File Dictionary of Regionalisms_ (2000) by Robert Hendrickson

http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/9621 contains comments about equivalent expressions from all over the world. (You really need to see some of the things that people call sunshowers!) According to this site, "The Devil is beating his wife," is an expression of the Dutch, the Hungarians and of Southerners from the U.S. Deep South.

http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-mon2.htm says:

"There's a well-known version in the American South, at least among older people: "The devil's behind his kitchen door beating his wife with a frying pan", usually shortened just to "The devil's beating his wife"."

http://www.emich.edu/~linguist/issues/9/9-1795.html organizes the phrases by language.

http://www.word-detective.com/072999.html, the Word Detective, says this:

In Brooklyn, we say "Big Tony is workin' on his car."

Dear Word Detective: In the south there is a common expression that people say when it is sunny in patches and simultaneously raining: "The devil is beating his wife." Are you familiar with this expression and can you perhaps tell me its origin? -- Alice Mullen, via the internet.

"This turned out to be an especially interesting question, and one that made me wish that I had become an anthropologist. (Only briefly, of course. I have no desire to spend my life mucking about in grubby old jungles, miles from the nearest decent pizzeria.)

"In any case, I had never heard the phrase "The devil is beating his wife" before, although I have experienced that unusual mix of rain and sunshine, usually called a "sunshower," on several occasions. And when I went looking for the precise origin, logic or history of the term, the cupboards were bare. But while poking around on the internet, I came across a query about folk terms for "sunshowers" posted by a Harvard linguist to a linguistics e-mail discussion group last year. The dozens of responses to his question proved that folks around the world have come up with some very weird words and phrases for this meteorological phenomenon.

" "The devil is beating his wife," for instance, occurs not only in English, but Dutch and Hungarian as well. Other such phrases include "The devil is getting married" (Hungarian), "The devil is kissing his wife" (Tennessee), and "The devil is having a parish fair" (German).

"The other main category of phrases used to explain sunshowers involves, I kid you not, animal weddings. "The rats are getting married," one would say in Arabic, while the Bulgarians say it's "the bear" that's getting hitched. Other betrothed parties include jackals (Hindi), tigers (Korea), witches (Spain), the poor (Greece), and leopards (various African languages). One animal, the fox, crops up all over the world, from Japan to Armenia, in such phrases.

"The question raised by all of this is, of course, why? Well, all of these phrases were probably serious myths at some point, concocted to explain an unusual weather event. They live on today as colorful folk sayings, for which we should be grateful."

I don't know if this helps or not, but I found it very interesting.

Nofret

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The Batwinged Sparverius
The Red and the Green Stamps


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To be precise, "the devil is beating his wife" is when it is raining while sunny. Reference: My mom.

Now, has anyone ever heard the phrase, "the sun is splitting the trees"? (Hint: it's weather-related.)

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Never heard of the splitting-trees thing, but my folks always used "the devil's beating his wife" when we had a sunshower (love that word!).

And of course we had a raft of other Southern sayings:

"My nose itches, I smell peaches, somebody's coming with a hole in his britches."

"He/she is ugly enough to make a freight train detour down a dirt road."

"It takes a heap of homin' to make a pigeon toed."

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Enjal
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Nice work Nofret! That does help explain it a bit. I'm wondering why people get the impression that it's a saying that southerners use though. My whole family is from Maine, mostly northern Maine in fact and have never really lived anywhere else. It's become such a small world though, you never know.

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"I'm a leaf in the wind"
New Lungs for George

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Enjal of Death:
Nice work Nofret! That does help explain it a bit. I'm wondering why people get the impression that it's a saying that southerners use though. My whole family is from Maine, mostly northern Maine in fact and have never really lived anywhere else. It's become such a small world though, you never know.

Well, northern Maine is south of Canada, so there ya go.

Was it the Laurel & Hardy feature Way Out West in which the following dialogue (or something like it) occurred?

Hardy: "Ah'm a Southerner. Ah was born down South, in Georgia."

Laurel: "Well, shut my mouth. I was born in the South, too."

Hardy: "South of what?"

Laurel: "South of London."

Brad "everybody's gotta be south of something" from Georgia

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"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
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Dark Jaguar
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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That is the most offensive saying I've EVER heard. I never thought that people of olden times even ACKNOWLEDGED marital abuse, much less made a daily SAYING about it. That's it, history needs to be censored [Big Grin] !

Really though, I don't think I'll ever incorporate this into daily use, or even use it once ever. That's surely something a few teen rebels would love to use all the time I'm sure. It just sounds so "casual goth".

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Chimera
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Wait, it's the tears of the devils wife and it's coming from the sky? I thought god was the sky being and the devil resided in the pit of hello.

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"The question for joining the protected forum for real magicians should be:

What is the use of women?"
Steve W. from JREF's 'This is no fun'

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