The list below introduces 30 most common Cat Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
Common Cat Idioms in English
Fight Like Cat And Dog
- Meaning: Continually arguing with each other
- Example: Those two fight like cat and dog, so please don’t put them together on the project.
Rain Cats And Dogs
- Meaning: Rain very heavily
- Example: It’s raining cats and dogs. Look at it pour!
(Like) Herding Cats
- Meaning: Difficult to coordinate (said of members of a group)
- Example: There are some brilliant thinkers at our office, but getting them to work together is like herding cats.
(There’s) More Than One Way to Skin A Cat
- Meaning: There are multiple ways to accomplish this task.
- Example: Joe’s user interface didn’t work well, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
(To Put the) Cat Among(st) the Pigeons
- Meaning: Cause a disturbance or disruption, usually intentionally
- Example: If we question the suspect now, it will put the cat among the pigeons, and his associates will scatter. Let’s hold off for now.
A Cat Has Nine Lives
- Meaning: Cats seem to get away with dangerous things
- Example: Mr.Smith has been missing for a few days, but I wouldn’t worry about him. Everybody knows a cat has nine lives.
A Cat In Gloves Catches No Mice
- Meaning: You can’t get what you need if you’re too careful.
- Example: I think you’ll get that promotion if you pursue it more assertively. A cat in gloves catches no mice, after all.
A Cat Nap
- Meaning: A short sleep during the day
- Example: I’m going to try to squeeze in a cat nap before my next shift starts, or else I’ll be feeling sluggish for the entire evening.
- Meaning: Someone who is excessively scared or afraid
- Example: Gary called Joanne a scaredy-cat because she didn’t want to go exploring in the woods after dark.
Bell the Cat
- Meaning: Take on a difficult or impossible task
- Example: Who will bell the cat and take on the job of reducing corruption in this country?
Can’t Swing A Dead Cat In (Place) Without Hitting A (Thing)
- Meaning: There are many examples of [thing] in this [place]
- Example: You can’t swing a dead cat in Massachusetts without hitting a good pizzeria.
Note: Fling a dead cat is also used.
- Meaning: A fight between two women
- Example: It was a wild night at the bar last night. A lot of people got drunk, and they were thrown out when they started arguing and a cat fight broke out.
Cat Got Your Tongue?
- Meaning: Don’t you have anything to say?
- Example: I saw you at the bar last night with another woman. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Note: This is often used with the question What’s the matter?, as in the example.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
- Meaning: Be extremely nervous
- Example: She’s waiting for the doctor to call with her test results, so she’s been like a cat on a hot tin roof all day.
- Meaning: In a toying way; playful in an unpleasant way
- Example: Caroline is giving Joe the cat-and-mouse treatment-she keeps leading him on, but she won’t commit to him.
Note: You can also say to play cat and mouse.
- Meaning: A person being used by someone else, a tool
- Example: The prime minister has no real power. He’s really just a cat’s paw of business interests.
- Meaning: Someone who has the respect of their peers in a young, casual way
- Example: Monty is a cool cat. I really like him.
Curiosity Killed The Cat
- Meaning: Stop asking questions, don’t be too curious
- Example: Why do you want to go to the city tomorrow?’ -‘Curiosity killed the cat.
- Meaning: A highly placed, well-paid executive
- Example: These days it seems as though the fat cats do better and better, but the workers do worse and worse.
Let the Cat Out of the Bag
- Meaning: Reveal a secret, usually a secret you or others are trying to keep
- Example: We had planned a surprise party for you, but Courtney let the cat out of the bag and told you about it.
Note: The cat is out of the bag is also used.
Like The Cat That Got The Cream
- Meaning: Looking particularly self-satisfied, often to the annoyance of others
- Example: After her promotion, Janet spent the rest of the day looking like the cat that got the cream.
Look What the Cat Dragged In
- Meaning: Someone unwelcome has arrived
- Example: Well, look what the cat dragged in. I suppose you want to borrow money again.
No Room To Swing A Cat
- Meaning: Very small, not big enough
- Example: Inside, there is no room to swing a cat, and everything you see is the most basic junk.
Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat
- Meaning: A very small space
- Example: My new car is economical, but there’s not enough room to swing a cat in there.
Play Cat And Mouse
- Meaning: Trying to trick someone into making a mistake so you can defeat them
- Example: The 32-year-old singer spent a large proportion of the week playing cat and mouse with the press.
Put The Cat Among The Pigeons
- Meaning: Say or do something that causes trouble or controversy
- Example: We didn’t want to put the cat among the pigeons, so we decided not to mention the bomb threat until we knew for certain that it was legitimate.
The Cat Is Out of the Bag
- Meaning: The secret has been revealed.
- Example: Maria told her friends about seeing us together at the movie. The cat is out of the bag.
There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat
- Meaning: There’s more than one way of achieving a certain goal.
- Example: Our talks with the investment group may have fallen through, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat!
Not Have A Cat In Hell’s Chance
- Meaning: Have no possibility of succeeding, coming to pass, or achieving something
- Example: They don’t have a cat’s chance in hell of getting into the playoffs this year.
Note: Primarily heard in UK.
Who’s She, the Cat’s Mother?
- Meaning: Why does she have such a high opinion of herself?
- Example: Samantha has been ordering everyone around lately. Who’s she, the cat’s mother?
Common Cat Idioms in English | Image 1
Common Cat Idioms in English | Image 2
December 1, 2018
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