Idioms and Phrases

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.


Idioms beginning with C

Partial List of Common Cat Idioms

Cat Idioms

Idiom makers have tormented cats for centuries. These poor creatures have suffered mountains of metaphorical (and sometimes real) abuse for the sake of an apt expression. While the imagery may be absurd at times, the fate of the imaginary cat is often tragic. Here are some of the cruelest cat idioms to have ever slipped off a person’s tongue — provided a watchful tomcat didn’t get hold of that tongue first.

1. Let The Cat Out of the Bag

This expression comes from cheats selling pigs. Back in the day, a sly market trader might have substituted a worthless cat inside a sack for a prized piglet in an attempt to dupe a customer. The miserable cat crammed inside the bag would freak out after the hoodwinked shopper opened the purchase up and discovered the fraud. Whatever you do, don’t try this trick at home with your beloved pet — unless you want a furious kitty tearing your face off, of course.

2. Curiosity Killed the Cat

Some cats escape idioms with only slight injuries, like charred paws, and thus live another day, able to seek out revenge for their metaphorical maltreatment. Not so with this deadly expression. Apparently “worry” used to dispatch the cat, but somehow “curiosity” got thrown into the mix, dooming inquisitive felines to very brief lifespans.

With any luck, the cats in your neighbor are big dummies, without an iota of curiosity — otherwise you might end up with heaping piles of dead pets on every street corner, which would be a nightmare for cat ladies and garbage collectors alike.

3. Like a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

If you’re a jittery sort, you could be acting “like a cat on a hot tin roof.” Tennessee Williams coined this expression for the title of his famous play. Roasting small animals on blistering tin and then forcing them to vault about might be an extremely descriptive simile, but once again, the tin-fried kitty and its seared paws suffer for our linguistic gratification. At least Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for his playwriting efforts, and this sadistic-sounding title.

4. Killing Two Birds with One Stone

I know what you’re thinking. This expression has absolutely nothing to do with cats. You’re right, it doesn’t. I threw it in to give our feline friends a brief respite before the beating continues.

Two birds dead with one stone? How could a cat not get behind a murderous idiom like that? If your cat ever caught you knocking out two songbirds with one stone throw (please don’t do this), you’d get a kitty nod of approval, while your tiny companion thought, “I guess this guy is more than just a primate can opener, after all.”

5. No Room to Swing a Cat

This idiom is fairly self-explanatory. If you can’t swing a cat around a room, you need more space. Some people believe this expression comes from whipping the cat-o’-nine-tails about, but chances are it’s an actual, mistreated cat. If, in one of your lesser moments, you’re tempted to measure a room with a spinning cat, try and avoid the urge. A tape measure is much more accurate, and it won’t attempt to murder you after you’re finished.

6. It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

This common saying most likely comes from a time when English cities were writhing cesspools bubbling over with filth and death. When a strong storm swept through, the rushing water would wash the corpses of cats and dogs down the street. That’s quite a lovely image, isn’t it? At least a surviving cat — they get nine lives, after all — could have taken comfort in the fact that its canine nemeses had been transformed into decomposing death rafts as well.

7. Busier Than a Three Legged Cat in a Dry Sandbox

This idiom is simply ruthless. It’s an old and seldom-used expression, but still, the picture it invokes is pretty clear. I’d like to think that the soul behind this phrase ran a rehabilitation center for injured cats of some sort — otherwise we’re probably talking about a psychotic child who relished torturing crippled cats in sandboxes. The first story seems so much nicer.

8. Hotter than a Six Peckered Alley Cat

The cruelty of this expression really depends on where those peckers are located. If they’re lined up in a neat little row in an appropriate area, then we’ve got one heck of a frisky feline on our hands. Talk about a mutant tomcat with some serious bragging rights. If, on the other hand, those tiny Johnsons are scattered about willy-nilly, with a couple dangling from its chin, and another smack dab in the middle of its forehead, then the viciousness of this metaphor holds no bounds. As any real estate professional can tell you, location is everything.

Author: Carl Pettit ( Columnist and writer)
Copyrights: Carl Pettit

call it a day

call it a day
Meaning: stop doing something, especially working.
Example: After second heart attack, she decided it would be best to follow her doctor’s advice and call it a day.

cross path

cross path
Meaning: meet somebody casually.
Example: He never crossed my path again since that incident 5 years before.

chop and change

chop and change
Meaning: repeatedly change.
Example: One day she’s going to be a doctor, the next she wants to study architecture – she’ll have to stop chopping and changing and make her mind up.

chapter and verse

chapter and verse
Meaning: verbatim; word for word details.
Example: I was asked if I could give a chapter and verse account of what had happened that night at the party.

camp follower

camp follower
Meaning: associate; supporter.
Example: The trouble with having a music celebrity as one’s spouse is all the camp followers and fans forever trying to invade your privacy.

come up with

come up with
Meaning: produce or find a thought, idea or answer.
Example: I came up with a name for your newly born baby.

come up

come up
Meaning: happen unexpectedly.
Example: He will not be able to attend the meeting if something else comes up.

come on

come on
Meaning: please, hurry, go faster.
Example: Come on, I have only few minutes before I must go.

carry out

carry out
Meaning: put something into action, to accomplish something, to do something.
Example: The scientist wanted to carry out several experiments before announcing the sending of human to the planet mars.

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