Welcome to another edition of Word Nerd Wednesday. 🙂 Today I’m going to be looking at the origins of a saying that I’ve come across not once, but twice this week, but before I do, I believe we have some unfinished business to discuss.
Some of you who commented last week were pretty cluey on this one, but for those of you who have been waiting with bated breath, it’s time for the grand reveal! Although, perhaps that’s not the best expression to choose in this instance…
Budgie smugglers is the not-so-affectionate name given to men’s speedos. As in those little underwear-like swimmers that men wear. And I’ll let you work out how that little moniker came about… 😉
But moving right along! I don’t know whether you know, but a great collection of novellas released on Monday this week called Love at First Laugh, featuring contemporary romance novellas by eight authors: Pepper Basham, Christina Coryell, Heather Gray, Elizabeth Maddrey, Jessica R. Patch, Krista Phillips, Laurie Tomlinson, and Marion Ueckermann.
I’ve read through the first three novellas so far, and I’m loving it! The reason I bring this up is that in two out of those three novellas I came across the phrase ‘right as rain’. I might not have thought much of it, except that in the case of Pepper Basham’s novella, Second Impressions, the hero (who’s not having his best moment!) responds to this assurance with, “I’m not a fan of rain.”
It got me thinking. Why do we say, It’ll be as right as rain? Most people would be able to tell you that it means all will be well; absolutely fine; something along those lines. But while rain is certainly beneficial, let’s face it: there are plenty of times when we feel like singing that old nursery rhyme “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.” So how did that expression come to mean something positive?
Well, according to Professor Google (who is never wrong, of course!) there are two possible explanations. The first one harks back to the original meaning of ‘right’, which was ‘straight’. Rain always falls in straight lines (even if those lines are not perpendicular to the ground), and therefore something which was right as rain was straight in direction. Giving further credence to this explanation is the fact that many other variants of right as rain have been popular through the centuries: right as nails, right as a trivet, right as a line, and even right as my leg, all of which complete the simile with a straight object—assuming you’re not bow legged! It is thought that right as rain has outlasted its companions simply because of its alliterative appeal.
The second explanation offered is that in Britain, where the saying originated, rainy weather is just a fact of life. If it’s raining, then all is just as it should be.
So there you have it.
Do you use the expression right as rain? If not, do you have an equivalent expression that you use?