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Devil’s Beating his Wife

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It’s raining, it’s pouring, but the sun is still shining. Quick—what do you call that? Some folks refer to it a sunshower, and others call it a monkey’s wedding. But a woman says her Southern-born mother used a much more unnerving expression: “The devil’s beating his wife.” Martha and Grant discuss the possible origins of this expression and its variants, like “The devil is beating his wife and the angels are crying.” Around the world, this meteorological phenomenon goes by an astonishing range of names. In Lithuanian, the name translates as orphan’s tears. In Korean, a tiger is getting married. Here’s a list of many more, collected a few years ago by linguist Bert Vaux. This is part of a complete episode.

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