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What Does Let The Cat Out Of The Bag Mean

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Let The Cat Out Of The Bag Whats The Meaning

What do ‘none the wiser’ and ‘let the cat out of the bag’ mean?

Whats the meaning of the let the cat out of the bag English idiom?

Hello, Studycat here!

I hope that your study is going well, Ive been enjoying learning and reading more than ever recently! Today Id like to share with you the meaning and the origin of the English idiom, let the cat out of the bag.

The first time you hear it, it does sound strange. Anyone who knows cats will know that we love bags. Why we love bags is a mystery to most humans and we will keep it that way for now.

Anyway, the expression to let the cat out of the bag means: to let out a secret.

Examples Of How To Use Let The Cat Out Of The Bag In A Sentence

  • The culprit knows everything about last night incident, we tried our best to convince her but she is not letting the cat out of the bag.
  • Let the cat out of the bag if you want to live here peacefully.
  • The newly recruited members of the intelligence agencies receive training about how to let the cat out of the bag.
  • Let the cat out of the bag, otherwise we will punish you.
  • I have lost my diamond ring last night, if any one of you knows where my ring is kindly let the cat out of the bag.
  • I was interested to know everything about her, and I was quite sure that she will let the cat out of her bag.
  • I f you are not willing to let the cat out of the bag then I cant do anything if you will help me than I can help you too.
  • Dont let the cat out of the bag, I f you want to live here peacefully then you must know how to keep the secrets.
  • Our teacher did not let the cat out of the bag about the results until all the papers were checked and signed by principal.

The Pig In A Poke Theory

One of the most popular theories as to the origin of the term actually refers to a pig and not a cat.

The theory goes that the term originated in a common old English market practice where livestock were often sold and traded in open markets. Occasional sellers would simply throw a live pig into a bag for the buyer to carry home, which was referred to at the time as selling a pig in a poke poke simply being a slang term for a bag or sack.

It is hypothesized that occasionally, rather than selling the buyer a pig, a malicious seller would actually toss a feral cat into the bag, all the while warning the buyer not to open the bag until they got home so that the pig didnt get out. Therefore, once the buyer got home and the cat was let out of the bag, the dishonesty of the seller would then become an open secret. As such, another idiom, dont buy a pig in a poke was a way of saying you should always be wary of what you are being sold.

Critics have argued that this theory seems implausible for a number of reasons. One of the most obvious is that piglets weigh more than cats, even heavy ones. And one could guess that a feral cat in the 16th century might not have a lot to eat. It is also easy to imagine that an animal held inside a bag would likely be in a state of considerable distress and might foreseeably cry out in anguish, and it is a generally well known fact that cats and pigs make noticeably different sounds.

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An Idiom Is A Phrase Whose Meaning Isnt Necessarily Obvious From A First Glance At The Individual Words

Weve all heard and even used the phrase, let the cat out of the bag, but do we even know what it means? And no, it doesnt actually mean that a cat is being kept in a bag, cause thats just, well ridiculous.

That phrase is an idiom,and there are plenty more just like it in the English language. According to Merriam-Webster, an idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements or in its grammatically atypical use of words .

So, in order to help give some clarity, weve scoured the internet and found 15 of the most popular idioms in the English language and their meanings.

Courtesy of GIPHY

Why Does Let The Cat Out Of The Bag Mean To Let Out A Secret

What does it mean

Well, there is one interesting theory. Many years ago people who sold animals would put them in a bag for the buyer to take home. Some people who sold pigs would try to trick their customers by swapping the baby pig for a cat. When the customer got home and let the cat out of the bag the secret of the sellers lie would be revealed.

There is one big problem with this theory. Nobody would prefer a pig to a cat!

See you next time. I have to go, I have a bag to climb into.

Find out more interesting English info with my Fun English app!

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Pronunciation In American English

This idiom is generally heard in conversations rather than seen in writing. Therefore, its important to realize how it is commonly pronounced.

The two words out of often get blended together in speech. Once blended, this part of the phrase sounds like outta. The whole phrase together sounds like, He let the cat outta the bag.

Also, if you dont know who told the secret, you can simply say, The cats outta the bag.

The Old Cat And The Sea

The first origin story claims the phrase refers to the cat oâ nine tails, a whipping device infamously used by the Royal Navy as an instrument of punishment aboard its ships. The whipâs nine knotted cords could scratch an undisciplined sailorâs back badly, hence its feline nickname. The bag comes into play because the cat, being made of leather, had to be kept in a sack to protect it from drying out in the salty sea air and keep it flexible. Removing a whip from a sack doesnât immediately seem to have anything to do with revealing a secret , but if you think of âletting the cat out of the bagâ as a revelation that results in a punishment, it makes a little more sense.

Urban legend clearinghouse Snopes rejects this origin, however, based on the fact that the phrase âlet the cat out of the bagâ was recorded before the term cat oâ nine tails. But the whipâs nickname shows up in print earlier than Snopes claims: In a 1695 play called Love for Love by William Congreve, it is used in a very clear reference to a lashing at sea. The same thing can’t be said about âlet the cat out of the bag,â though, and there aren’t any recorded uses of it in a nautical context.

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Where Does Cat Got Your Tongue Come From

Cat got your tongue? Origin: The English Navy used to use a whip called Cat-o’-nine-tails for flogging. The pain was so severe that it caused the victim to stay quiet for a long time. Another possible source could be from ancient Egypt, where liars’ and blasphemers’ tongues were cut out and fed to the cats.

Feeling Under The Weather

LET the CAT OUT of the BAG Examples (3 Illustrations)

Again, the origins of this one are a little unclear generally, though, its thought to be a nautical phrase. According to a number of online repositories of idiomatic expressions, sailors who felt unwell were sent below deck to protect them from the weather â literally, âunder the weather.â Only one of these databases cites an outside source, though, and that source was published fairly recently in 1983. As such, Im not sure when the first recorded usage of the phrase occurred.

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Where Did The Expression I Have A Bone To Pick With You Come From

Most sources state that this expression comes from a dog trying to pick off the meat from a bone, and one connotation of this idiom is trying to solve a difficult time-consuming problem. This is likely related to the fact that dogs often gnaw on a bone for very long periods of time, even when most of the meat is gone.

What To Do If Your Cat Throws Up A Lot

This problem could be as simple as the cat eating too much food in a little time. If you think its hairballs try mixing some hairball food in with the mormal diet. If its hairballs your kitty is vomiting, you can give Vetbasis, a good quality hairball remedy, and try to increase combing her to help remove loose hairs.

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Was There Ever A Literal Cat Let Out Of A Literal Bag

According to Snopes, this origin of the phrase is very unlikely for several reasons. First, it’s unlikely that someone expecting a pig would receive a bag with a cat in it and not immediately know something was wrong pigs and cats don’t resemble or behave like each other at all, even inside a bag. Second, for this phrase to become so well known, the “substitute a cat for a pig” scam would have had to have worked many, many times. Considering the first reason, the second seems even more dubious.

The second possible origin of the saying comes from maritime history. The Wessex Museums explains that the British Royal Navy kept a whip known as a “cat-o’-nine-tails” on ships for disciplining unruly or incompetent sailors. The whip was supposedly stored in a red sack, and therefore, when it was extracted for use, the “cat” was out of the “bag.” Once again, however, this origin story is likely a fable, as there’s no proof that cat-o’-nine-tails were actually stored in special sacks, nor that the phrase originated in the naval community.

The actual etymology of “the cat’s out of the bag” is unclear. Snopes posits that it’s simply a good metaphor for a secret getting out a cat leaping out of a bag is explosive, surprising, and goes where it wants to go despite the “bag holder’s” wishes. Humor writer Will Rogers was indeed correct when he quipped, per Today I Found Out, “Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.”

The Medieval Scam Explanation

Why Do We Say " Let the Cat Out of the Bag" ?

The most heavily cited explanation for why we say let the cat out of the bag dates back to the Middle Ages. As the story goes, shady livestock vendors in medieval marketplaces sought to swindle their buyers. When someone would purchase a pig, the vendor would sneak a cat into the bag instead, cheating the buyer out of the higher price for a pig. It wasnt until the buyer arrived home and, literally, let the cat out of the bag that theyd realize theyd been scammed, hence the phrases association with revealing a secret. English has no shortage of idioms for telling a secretheres why we also call it spilling the beans.

This explanation is not outright provenand neither, in fact, is the tale that medieval vendors even regularly did such a switcheroo.

But this explanation does have some things going for it. For one thing, per Phrases.org, both the Dutch and German versions of this phrase translate to to buy a cat in a bag, which alludes more directly to a deceitful purchase. And the Spanish translation means to give a cat for a hare, suggesting that it would be rabbits, not pigs, that vendors would switch with the cats.

But, then again, the expression pig in a poke, which dates back to the 16th century, also refers to making a deal or purchasing something without fully validating it. For more idiom curiosities, why do we say knock on wood?

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Why Was The Cat In A Bag In The First Place

One of the most curious and funny aspects of language is the use of idioms. These expressions use words in a non-literal way to mean something other than the actual meaning of the individual wordsand theyre often quirky, funny, or perplexing, like spill the beans, break a leg, and take it with a grain of salt.

And, notably, a lot of them involve animals, from straight from the horses mouth to let the cat out of the bag. When we say let the cat out of the bag, were not actually talking about a feline that was in a bag but about a secret or surprise that was revealed. Whats the origin of that idiom? And find out why we say dime a dozen as well.

Why Does My 11 Year Old Cat Keep Throwing Up

The most common cause of vomiting in older cats is chronic small intestinal disease. This disease is due to two primary causes: Both can result in a cat vomiting anywhere from twice per month to even daily. After several months to years, most cats experience weight loss.

Kitties of all ages and breeds may exhibit vomiting as a symptom, but whether or not it is a cause for concern will depend on how often the vomiting occurs and if there is an underlying medical condition thats to blame. Throwing up hairballs is common, and usually nothing to be too worried about.

This problem could be as simple as the cat eating too much food in a little time. If you think its hairballs try mixing some hairball food in with the mormal diet. If its hairballs your kitty is vomiting, you can give Vetbasis, a good quality hairball remedy, and try to increase combing her to help remove loose hairs.

Natalia Mogollon, who goes by Alinity Divine, threw her cat over her shoulder Mogollon, from Saskatoon, Canada, has over 90,000 followers on Twitter PETA and the SPCA both condemned her actions after viewers reported the clip Mogollon has several pets that live with her at her home in Saskatoon.

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Why Do We Say Cats Out Of The Bag

Well, first, lets consider the first recorded use of the phrase. In a 1760 book review in the London Magazine, the reviewer complained that he wished that the author had not let the cat out of the bag, presumably referring to some kind of plot point.

But while the first recorded use of the phrase is pretty straightforward, its origin is not. Unfortunately, its hard to pin down a precise origin for many idioms like these, simply because of the way language evolves. People start using phrases gradually, over time, and theres no concrete historical record of how they came up with that phrase. This is especially the case with figurative expressions, which, by definition, dont literally mean what they say.

So theres no definitive consensus as to where it comes from, but there is an explanation that most linguists consider at least somewhat likely. And it actually, literally, involves cats in bags! Make sure you also read up on why we say piqued my interest.

Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

English idioms

There are two possible explanations for this one floating around out there, but unfortunately we dont know which of them is correct â or, indeed, if either of them is correct. The first explanation describes it as relating to a punishment for sailors allegedly once upon a time, the British Royal Navy kept a cat o nine tails on each ship stored in a leather bag. When a sailor needed flogging, out came the bag â and out came the whip. As Mental Floss puts it, taking a whip out of a sack doesnt initially seem to have much to do with revealing a secret â but âif you think of letting the cat out of the bag as a revelation that results in punishment, it makes a little more sense.

The second alleged origin relates the phrase to livestock fraud. The con pulled involved selling piglets in sacks and swapping the sacks for ones filled with cats after the customer had made the purchase. Snopes, however, discounts both of these potential origins, so alas, we may never know the truth.

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To Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

In the end, a lot of people argue that letting the cat out of the bag is simply just a juicy and highly relatable mental image. Many point out the cats have always featured prominently in English Proverbs, and were commonly kept as mousers in most British households. Therefore, the typical behavior patterns of cats, including their typical penchant for bags, not to mention the shock they often elicited when they jump out of them, would not be unfamiliar to a large swath of the British public in the 18th century and beyond.

Regardless of where the term actually came from, one thing is for sure. To quote the inimitable humorist Will Rogers, Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.

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