Spitting in AE? [light rain]

heypresto

Senior Member
English - England
John McEnroe, while commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon Tennis today, made a comment about the weather. He said “It’s spitting”, adding in verbal parentheses, “as they say over here”.

I took this to mean that the very common BE expression ‘spitting’ (or ‘spitting with rain’), is not found in AE. Is this the case? If so, what, if any, expressions do AE speakers use to describe very light rain?
 
  • djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    John McEnroe, while commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon Tennis today, made a comment about the weather. He said “It’s spitting”, adding in verbal parentheses, “as they say over here”.

    I took this to mean that the very common BE expression ‘spitting’ (or ‘spitting with rain’), is not found in AE. Is this the case? If so, what, if any, expressions do AE speakers use to describe very light rain?

    Hi,

    That's correct. We also do not (usually) say "It's pissing with rain" and never "It's chucking it down". We'd say It's pouring (down) rain, It's pouring down raining, It's raining buckets, it's raining cats and dogs, it's really coming down. We keep it pretty boring. :D

    ***EDIT: SORRY!! You were talking about a light rain not a heavy downpour. I realized this after the fact. We say "It's sprinkling".
     
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    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I'm with Kate. "It's spitting rain" is very common in my neck of the woods, but I've never heard "It's spitting." MonsieurPeril and djweaverbeaver, are you not familiar with the former?
     

    MonsieurPersil

    Member
    English - US
    I can't say that I've ever heard someone use "It's spitting" in reference to a light rain. Maybe it's regional ? It could also be that I live in Phoenix where water falling from the sky in any form is exceptionally unusual, and therefore we don't have many words to describe it. In fact, I can't recall the last time it "sprinkled" in my home town. A downpour, yes. A torrential rain, absolutely. But certainly not a sprinkle.
     

    djweaverbeaver

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English Atlanta, GA USA
    I'm with Kate. "It's spitting rain" is very common in my neck of the woods, but I've never heard "It's spitting." MonsieurPeril and djweaverbeaver, are you not familiar with the former?

    Nope. Never heard it. That probably explains why I initially misunderstood its meaning.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Here is a page with many British terms for different levels of rain which I copied long ago for its humo(u)r. The terms are under each heading, listed as "Associated phrases".
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I have also never heard it anywhere, either as "it's spitting" or as "it's spitting rain." I grew up in CA, lived in upstate NY, PA, Michigan and Maryland and don't remember ever hearing it anywhere.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I've never heard "spitting" in association with rain. Sprinkling for a light rain, yes (as has already been mentioned)—also drizzling for a very light rain, so light that you're not quite sure whether to open your umbrella. ("Is it raining out?" "Not really. It's just drizzling.")
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks everybody. BE/AE differences are endlessly fascinating.

    When we talk about 'spitting' or 'pouring' or 'pissing', we always say 'with rain'. 'It's pouring with rain', never 'it's pouring rain'. We might, however, talk about going out in the pouring rain.

    And we tend to reserve the word 'sprinkle' for what a garden sprinkler does, what we do with sugar on cereals, or what do to moon dust in your hair.


    Here is a page with many British terms for different levels of rain which I copied long ago for its humo(u)r. The terms are under each heading, listed as "Associated phrases".

    Very funny - and not entirely inaccurate. Quite sensibly it omits any mention of 'mizzle' - an awful word inflicted upon us, I believe, by the Met Office. It's a combination of 'mist' and 'drizzle', but shouldn't be. :eek:
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Quite sensibly it omits any mention of 'mizzle' - an awful word inflicted upon us, I believe, by the Met Office. It's a combination of 'mist' and 'drizzle', but shouldn't be. :eek:

    Really? It's an old word. Here's Jane Austen's Emma (with Emma talking about Mr Weston):

    Ever since the day (about four years ago) that Miss Taylor and I met with him in Broadway-lane, when, because it began to mizzle, he darted away with so much gallantry, and borrowed two umbrellas for us from Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject. (Ch 1)

    and I think she just means drizzle.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    BBC weather forecasters treat us to such interesting phenomena as 'spits and spots of rain' and 'organised rain'.
    My mother used to quote the West Corkman who called anything short of a downpour 'a shmahl bit of a misht'.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks - I hadn't realised it was an old word. Whatever Emma might have meant, it seems nowadays to be used only by TV weather persons, for 'mist+drizzle'.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I'd say either: It's misting. --or-- It's drizzling. (As Parla suggested.)

    Or: There's a light rain.

    Never ever ever ever :) heard "spitting" in this context.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Well, I never learned it here (AE) but occasionally when I find the right combination of weather and companions who have been exposed to plenty of BE fiction, I might venture to say, "It's spitting a bit." (Even then I might have to explain it to about half of them.)
     
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