re: The Devil beating his wife

Well it seems I’ve caused a bit of a stir about a recent status update where I said that I was watching the Devil beat his wife. So here’s the deal…

1. I can see how some thought I was referring my wife with that pronoun. Nope. That’s not what I meant as you’re about to understand…

2. The phrase “the devil is beating his wife” is a phrase to describe a sunshower, or when the sun is shining while it rains.

It’s a southern thing I suppose. In fact, a friend of mine from Georgia knew the phrase and told his wife the same thing today.

I did a little looking around online about this. Of course checking out ‘sunshower’ on Wikipedia reveals a good summary of what I was finding spread around the internets.

In the United States, particularly the South, a sunshower is said to show that “the devil is beating his wife.” Similar phrases occur in Hungary and Holland. A regional variant from Tennessee is “the devil is kissing his wife.”

I learned a lot looking this up. Apparently in many places in the world, there are a lot of phrases used to describe a sunshower. Many cultures use phrases that describe animal weddings such as monkeys, jackals, rats, bears, tigers, leopards, and foxes. Other cultures refer to witches making butter, elves getting married, and of course the devil beating his wife.

Additionally there is a book I found on Amazon called The Devil Beats His Wife: And other stories from the Low Country. In the Amazon book description it says:

The author offers poignant descriptions of the old abandon black churches that dot secondary roads in rural areas of the South.

So any others know what I’m talking about? And if so, you from the South?

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  • Jim

    Yes, I’ve heard it before and it’s most definitely a southern thing.

  • I knew all along what you meant. Dad used to say that every time the sun was out while it was raining!

  • Well boy howdy. I was fixin’ to say “Do what?” when I read that. Now I know. 🙂

  • Funny thing, I was just looking out my window and watched the rain fall while the sun was out and it reminded me of a saying I used to hear when I was growing up in North Carolina,”the devil is beating his wife”. Thought I’d look it up and see if I was the only person who’d heard it–good to know I’m not.

  • Michael S

    Came across this searching for some info on the origins of the Phrase. I am willing to bet that it originated in Africa. The reason I say this is that as mentioned above, it was commonly used by Black People in Low Country South Carolina. It isn't a huge leap to say that there is probably a connection to the Gullah People of that region, who were escaped African Slaves.

    The trail could very well end there, except for the fact that I first heard it used in Jamaica over 30 years ago, but believe it probably has been in use as far back as the Days of Slavery in that country. I have also heard other West Indian's use it.
    Only difference is that in Jamaica, they say “The Devil and His Wife, are Fighting Over a Herringbone.”

    I would be interested to know if any of my african friends are familiar with the term or heard it used back in the Motherland

  • Lily

    I have always known what this phrase means, I live in Montana, I decided to look up where it originated from and found your page. I thought every one knew what it meant, ooops, my bad. Thanks for the description!