List of idioms with the word “Cat” and the meanings. Commonly used idioms related to “cat” and their meanings along with example sentences.
Idioms With “Cat”
- “Let the cat out of the bag” – This means to reveal a secret. Example: “She accidentally let the cat out of the bag and told everyone the surprise party was for her.”
- “To have a cat-and-mouse game” – This means to engage in a battle of wits or to play a game of evasion. Example: “The detectives and the suspect have been playing a cat-and-mouse game for weeks, with neither side gaining an advantage.”
- “To be the cat’s meow” – This means to be fashionable or attractive. Example: “She thinks her new haircut is the cat’s meow, but everyone else thinks it’s too drastic.”
- “To have a cat nap” – This means to take a short nap. Example: “I need to have a cat nap before my afternoon class.”
- “To look like the cat that got the cream” – This means to have a smug or self-satisfied appearance. Example: “He looks like the cat that got the cream after winning the lottery.”
- “To have a cat fight” – This means to have a heated argument or a physical altercation. Example: “The two celebrities had a cat fight on Twitter and it was all over the news.”
- “To have a cat’s eye view” – This means to have a unique or different perspective. Example: “As a child, I had a cat’s eye view of the world and saw things in a different way than adults.”
a rich but usually lazy person
1. Now that Mr. Anderson is rich, he rides around town in a fancy car like a fat cat and has everyone else do the work.
2. Richard is such a fat cat businessman. He owns several supermarkets.
The expression is primarily used to describe a man (usually not a woman) who, although rich, is not seen as industrious.
He has perhaps become wealthy through hard work but is nowrelaxing, or he has never had to work for his wealth.
let the cat out of the bag
to reveal a secret
1. When Rachel decided she was going to quit her job, she told her best friend but she didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. Rachel told her friend not to tell anyone.
2. The children put their money together to buy their mother a birthday present, but the youngest child became excited and couldn’t keep from telling his mother what they had bought. His brothers and sisters told him he shouldn’t have let the cat out of the bag.
Synonym: spill the beans
Antonym: keep (something) under (one’s) hat
Centuries ago, merchants would sell piglets in bags. If a dishonest merchant placed a cat in the bag instead of the more costly and valuable piglet, the buyer might not know until they opened the bag and let the cat out.
look like the cat that swallowed the canary
to have a knowing and self-satisfied smile on one’s face; to be pleased with oneself, often because one has done something which one knows was wrong but which was very enjoyable
1. The clever businessman had just completed a very profitable deal for a very good price, and he was very pleased with himself. He looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.
2. When the teacher came into the classroom, the students sat there looking like cats that swallowed the canaries. The teacher knew the students must be planning something mischievous.
Canaries are songbirds that people keep as pets in cages. A cat that had swallowed a canary would be pleased with itself but also know that it would be in trouble when the master of the house came home and discovered what had happened.
more than one way to skin a cat, There’s
there are different ways to accomplish the same thing; there are different possible solutions to a problem
1. There must be some way to raise enough money to buy a car. We’ve put all our savings together but it isn’t enough. Still, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I’ll get a second job!
2. My friends asked me how they could accomplish something that seemed impossible. I told them that they simply hadn’t looked at all the possibilities. I told them there’s always more than one way to skin a cat and that they would eventually find a solution.
raining cats and dogs
to rain very heavily
1. The children should take their raincoats, umbrellas, and boots—it’s raining cats and dogs.
2. I’ve never seen such rain! Look how fast it’s coming down. It’s raining cats and dogs.
a grin like a Cheshire cat
a very wide smile
Usage notes: The Cheshire cat is a character in Lewis Carroll’s book Alice in Wonderland and is famous for its big smile.
a scaredy-cat (informal)
someone who is frightened when there is no reason to be
Usage notes: This phrase is used especially by children.
be like a cat on a hot tin roof
to be nervous and unable to keep still What’s the matter with her? She’s like a cat on a hot tin roof this morning.
be the cat’s whiskers (British & Australian)
to be better than everyone else I thought I was the cat’s whiskers in my new dress.
cat got your tongue
why are you not speaking
After she finished the story, I kept silent. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? she asked.
dead cat on the line
Rur. [for something to be]wrong. I’m afraid there’s a dead cat on the line over at Martha’s place. I haven’t heard from them for days.
fight like cat and dog (British & Australian) also fight like cats and dogs (British & American)
to argue violently all the time
Fig. a coward; a person who is frightened of everything. (Used in children’s taunts.)
not have a cat in hell’s chance (British)
to have no chance at all of achieving something (usually + of + doing sth)
mad enough to kick a cat
Rur. very angry.
play cat and mouse
to try to defeat someone by tricking them into making a mistake so that you have an advantage over them (often + with )
purr like a cat and purr like a kitten
1. Fig. [for an engine]to run well and smoothly. My car really purred after I got it tuned up. New sparkplugs and this old heap will really purr like a cat.
2. Fig. [for a person]to be very pleased, and perhaps moan or purr with pleasure. She was so pleased that she purred like a cat. Sarah really purrs like a kitten when she is happy.
put/set the cat among the pigeons (British & Australian)
to do or say something that causes trouble and makes a lot of people angry or worried
see which way the cat jumps (Australian informal)
to delay making a decision or doing something until you know what is going to happen or what other people are going to do
shoot the cat
Sl. to empty one’s stomach; to vomit.
sling the cat
Sl. to empty one’s stomach; to vomit.
be a copy-cat
to be a person who copies or mimics what someone else does. (Usually juvenile.)
Sally wore a pink dress just like Mary’s. Mary called Sally a copy-cat.
Bill is such a copy-cat. He bought a coat just like mine.