What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining? An interesting set of dialect terms; needless to say, I welcome contributions from other languages (this is not the sort of thing it’s easy to find in a dictionary). In Russian, for instance, it’s gribnoi dozhd’—’mushroom rain.’ Via Drum & Bass & Eggs & Flour .

Addendum. T. Carter of Lifechanges … Delayed provides a link to the LINGUISTList post on this subject from five years ago; it has a great many expressions, most with the original language (though not, alas, the Georgian). Many thanks, T.!


  1. I suspect some of those might be ethnolects, actually. For example, the scattered distribution of “fox’s wedding”, plus that being the term in Japanese (kitsune no yomeiri, which technically is the sort of wedding where the bride is recieved into the groom’s family, which does mean that the phrase actually has a terminus post quem based on the rise of the term yomeiri, which I never thought of before….)

  2. How come my Japanese-English dictionary defines kitsune no yomeiri as “a demon’s lantern march”?

  3. No idea why lantern in particular, but it’s sometimes a bad idea, in popular tradition, to go outside when you have a sunshower (see Kurosawa’s Dreams). Foxes are not trusthworthy beasts.
    The Genius Japanese-English dictionary uses “sunshower,” and the Kojien says it’s one of two things: roughly, either a parade of foxfire/will ‘o the wisps (ah, which is probably where the “demon’s lantern march” comes from), or else “weather when although the sun is shining, rain is falling.”

  4. Interesting…

  5. Aren’t kitsune sometimes considered to be demons? And of course the Romans associated torch processions with weddings… so is it possible that the Japanese word historically refered to a “lantern march”?

  6. Well, “demons” is a strong word, I think; and unfortunately that doesn’t really explain how the phrase came to mean “sunshower” either. (But I haven’t seen an etymology really for “The devil is beating his wife”–man, it’s been ages since I’ve heard that.)
    It’s possible that it’s related to a lantern march–I can only say this because the use of yomeiri means that it falls mostly outside my knowledge of the history of Japanese wedding customs. Yomeiri is not a particularly early term (I’d have to try to find that article which stated when it first started coming into use) because marriages were (supposedly, this is in debate, but at least the terminology was) uxorilocal. Anyway, the term is not that old, medieval at least. I’ll see if I can’t find a historical citation somewhere, when I get a chance.

  7. In the UK I’ve heard “monkeys birthday”, but never “monkey’s wedding”.

  8. There was a long list of sunshower phrases from various languages on Linguist a few years ago

  9. Wow, the mother lode — thank you!
    “The kitsune no yomiire or ‘fox’s wedding’ usually refers to a particular pattern of light. This usually occurs late afternoon when the sun is low (but not always), and there is fairly heavy cloud cover in most of the sky but particularly in the east. The illuminating effect of the light on west facing surfaces is in strong contrast to nearby dark surfaces. In this part of the world (England), there are frequent sunshowers, but only a few of them would be described as a ‘fox’s wedding’. (Dave Cragg)”
    On gribnoi dozhd’:
    “1. In my opinion gribnoj dozhd’ (in the meaning of ‘sunshower’) is a rather new expression. I’ve certainly heard it. But it is usually used by rather young people living in towns. In villages gribnoj dozhd’ is any warm rain (with or without sunlight) i.e. it is a hyperonim for sunshower. [Denis Akhapkine]
    2. gribnoj dozhd’ is in common use, at least in the Northern parts of Russia, but the meaning is different; it refers to a light rain or, rather, drizzling (which is believed to be good for mushrooms to grow, hence the use of the word gribnoj). [Vadim Kassevitch]
    3. I don’t know the official etymology of gribnoj dozhd’, but folk belief is that it is called this way because it presents ideal conditions for mushroom growing — a combination of moisture and warmth. Since mushroom collecting is one of the favourite Russian pastimes, this is how Russians look at this weather phenomenon. [Natalia Kondrashova]
    4. In Russian, slepoj ‘blind’ sometimes means ‘pale’, e.g. slepaja pechat’, literally ‘blind print’, which refers to being unable to read a text because it is illegible or pale. [Denis Akhapkine]
    5. I think the explanation [for some people using ‘mushroom rain’ and some using ‘pale rain’] is to be found “in the world” rather than in the language. The thing is that precisely two things are needed for mushrooms to grow well, i.e. moisture (=rain) AND sufficiently high temperature (=sun). This seems to provoke a rapprochement between slepoj dozhd’ and gribnoj dozhd’. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no standard dictionary gives identical glosses to the two collocations, nor does my personal experience agree with equating them. (Vadim Kassevitch)”

  10. In Swedish: just plain “solregn”.

  11. Several cultures now ascribed this phenomenon to folkloric tales featuring clever animals or tricksters being related or getting married to the devil. Source:

  12. Seventeen years late, I have discovered the original Georgian: მზე პირს იბანს [mze p’irs ibans]. This page says:

    მზიანი ამინდის დროს წამოსული მოულოდნელი წვიმა

    გამოიყენება ეზოში თამაშისას. ამ ფრაზით ბავშვები ცდილობენ ერთმანეთის დამშვიდებას, რათა ეზოში დარჩნენ და არ მოუწიოთ სახლში ასვლა.


    Sudden rain during sunny weather

    Used when playing in the yard. With this phrase the children try to calm each other down so that they stay in the yard and do not have to climb home.

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