When it comes to using idioms, making sure we know where they come from is a great way to expand our horizons. You’ll find yourself impressing your friends and coworkers with just a little bit of extra knowledge. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of “right as rain.”
What Does “Right As Rain” Mean?
“Right as rain” means that someone feels well again, usually after feeling unwell or ill in the time before saying it. It can also simply mean that someone is saying that something is “correct,” which is a historical meaning for the word which still gets used today.
According to The Cambridge Dictionary, for someone to “be as right as rain” means “to feel healthy or well again.” Generally, we use it only in this context. That means that we only say it when we were ill and feeling much better.
When we explore more of the origin of the word, you’ll start to understand how we can use it in slightly different cases, like when we use it to simply mean that somebody is correct.
What Is The Origin Of “Right As Rain”?
To find out the origin of the word, we have to go back about two centuries. There are a few cases of it used throughout history, and it’s important to know what the most significant ones are that sculpted its meaning today.
Unlike some other idioms formed in history, “right as rain” seems to have no clear meaning. Most people don’t enjoy “rain,” which makes it a strange thing to include when talking about something being “right as.”
After this origin explanation, hopefully, you’ll understand why we use it.
Hence These Tears, 1872
Hence These Tears was a novel written by J.B.L Warren in 1872. It seems to be one of the earliest known recorded uses of “right as rain” as a phrase.
In Hence These Tears, “right as rain,” is used to say that something is quiet outside. Someone asked whether the noise had died down in the passage, and someone replied “right as rain” after investigating.
Of course, this meaning isn’t something we use commonly today. In this case, “right as rain” meant that everything was back to normal with the flow of things. It’s close to saying that we were ill, and now we’re not, but it’s not quite developed that meaning just yet.
In The Midst Of Alarms, 1894
Robert Barr wrote “In The Midst Of Alarms” and included a use of “right as rain” two decades after the one we previously mentioned. This version of the phrase might have had the largest part to play in why we use “right as rain” today.
In this book, “right as rain, Renny” is the phrase used to reply to someone to announce that they were correct about something. This meaning is rarely used today, but the alliteration with all the “R” words made it stand out and potentially made it stick.
While we don’t include “Renny” when we’re saying the phrase today, it seems like that the catchiness of the alliteration, in this case, played a big part in making sure “right as rain” was the final phrase we stuck with.
The Crisis Magazine, 1956
One year after Joseph T. Shipley published the 1955 Dictionary of Early English, The Crisis Magazine released a book review for it. Among the reviewed information, The Crisis Magazine brought to light one very important part about the phrase’s origin.
According to The Crisis Magazine, “right” had a previous meaning that was lost at the time of publication. “Right” when used in the phrase “right as rain” actually meant “straight,” so someone is saying that they’re as “straight as rain.”
“Straight” in this case refers to a direction. Rain is considered to be straight, and you’ll often see captured photographs of rain outdoors showing just how straight it falls. The lines never seem to wobble or distort in any way when it’s raining.
That’s part of the reason we use “right as rain” today. It means that we’re as “straight as rain,” meaning we couldn’t possibly be straighter, and there’s no way we’re going to lose the straightness that we’ve achieved (since rain is never bent).
Sometimes, words like this have a way of falling through history until something like The Crisis Magazine picks it up. Many people alive today won’t know that “right” once meant “straight” in terms of direction; however, it seems to be the most believable reason why we use “right as rain” today.
Examples Of How To Use “Right As Rain” In A Sentence
Now that we’ve covered the origin of the phase, it’s time to go over some examples of how you might be able to use it. We’ll include as many variations as possible to help you understand it better.
We usually say “right as rain” in response to something that somebody has said or asked us about. We use it to let them know that we feel better or, in rare cases, to let them know they’re correct about something.
- How are you feeling after the flu last week?
- I’m right as rain, thank you!
- Am I right in saying you didn’t know anything about this disaster?
- Right as rain!
- Are you feeling okay? I heard what happened with your girlfriend.
- I’m right as rain, but thanks for asking.
- How are you holding up?
- Right as rain! Don’t worry about me!
- I brought you some soup to help alleviate the symptoms. Are you okay?
- Yeah, I’m right as rain! Don’t worry!
- Am I right in thinking you haven’t played this game before?
- Right as rain! Will you teach me?
As you can see from these examples, we mostly use it when we’re talking about recovering from something. You don’t always have to use it strictly to talk about illnesses, either.
In the example about something happening with someone’s “girlfriend,” we use “right as rain” to say that we’re feeling better than we did the last time we spoke to the person. In this case, it’s likely that the couple had a fight or broke up, and they might have been feeling down but now feel much happier.
From this, you can see that “right as rain” is more about an emotional rebalance rather than a strictly physical recovery from illness. It’s up to you how you choose to use it, though.
Right As Rain – Synonyms
It might help you to use a couple of alternatives and synonyms instead. That way, if you’re struggling with understanding why or when people use “right as rain,” you can just replace it with one of these!
- Never better
This is a common response when someone asks us how we’re doing. Usually, we’ll say “never better” when we’ve recovered from something (like an illness or emotional problem). It’s synonymous with “right as rain” and can be used to talk about an improved state of being.
- Fit as a fiddle
This is another great idiom that says that we’re feeling much better. This is only used in the case of talking about recovering from a physical illness (since “fit” implies we’re talking about fitness rather than emotional or mental health).
- In good nick
You can finally use this idiom if you want to say that you’re doing well and looking after yourself. If someone is concerned about you, this might be a good response to give them to let them know they don’t need to worry.
Is “Right As Rain” An Idiom?
“Right as rain” is an idiom. An idiom is a combination of words that don’t have connected meanings, but when seen written together, offer a familiar phrase that we understand.
There are plenty of idioms in the English language. At first glance, it might be difficult to work out what meaning some of them are trying to put across. That’s why we think it’s so important to go back to where it all began and learn all about its origins.
“Right as rain” is a fairly common idiom that’s used globally too. You can expect quite a lot of native speakers to use it, and most (if not all) of them will understand what it means when you say it.
Is It Right As Rain Or Reign?
Making sure we use the correct words in the phrase is incredibly important. After all, the whole point to calling it an idiom is using a series of unrelated words to make a well-known phrase with a different meaning. If you get it wrong, that meaning is lost!
“Right as rain” is the correct spelling and the only form you should use. You should not write “right as reign” because it is wrong. “Rain” and “reign” are homophones (meaning they sound identical), but that’s where the similarity stops.
There are no similar meanings between “rain” as “reign.” Considering everything we’ve already mentioned in this article, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about “rain” like the weather rather than “reign” like in royalty.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.