"rain" vs "rainfall"


I know that “rainfall” has the meaning of “the total amount of rain that falls in a particular area in a particular amount of time”, but I just wonder if it can be used to mean a rain. I saw this in a dictionary (I don’t know its name. It’s a monolingual dictionary for mobile phones).

Cloudburst: a heavy and sudden rainfall

And when I looked it up in the OALD, I found this:

[U, sing.] the total amount of rain that falls in a particular area in a particular amount of time; an occasion when rain falls: There has been below average rainfall this month. ◆ an average annual rainfall of 10 cm

Is the bold part implies the word’s meaning as a rain? If not, could you plesae make a sentence to clarify it? If yes, I just wonder why they don’t consider it as a second meaning instead of using a “;” :roll:

Many thanks

Hi Nessie

I’d say that, although there are times when the words ‘rain’ and ‘rainfall’ are used as countable nouns, they are both more often used uncountably.

Thanks a lot, Amy :slight_smile:

But… I’m asking about the meaning of “rainfall” as “rain”, not its usage as a countable noun… :open_mouth:

Do you mean something like this?

  • The rainfall last night caused substantial flooding.

Yes, Amy. Does it mean exactly the same as “The rain last night caused substantial flooding.”?


Hi Nessie

The use of rainfall sounds more formal.

Oh, I got it now. Thanks a lot, Amy :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s so nice to be online at the same time as you like this :P, but I have to go to bed now since it’s nearly 2 a.m. now
(Sleepyyy… I am so sleepyyyy… :P:P:P)

Goodnight to you, Amy! :stuck_out_tongue:

I always thought ‘rainfall’ has one more meaning: ‘Heavy rain’. And if we say ‘light rainfall’ it means the rain was heavy but short. Isn’t it true?

I have no idea whether it’s true or not but I just find no such meaning for the word in any dictionaries :P:P

The word ‘rainfall’ doesn’t necessarily suggest ‘heavy rain’ to me.