- a small domesticated carnivore, Felis domestica or F. catus, bred in a number of varieties.
- any of several carnivores of the family Felidae, as the lion, tiger, leopard or jaguar, etc.
- a person, especially a man.
- a devotee of jazz.
- a woman given to spiteful or malicious gossip.
- the fur of the domestic cat.
- a cat-o'-nine-tails.
- a catboat.
- a catamaran.
- a catfish.
- Nautical. a tackle used in hoisting an anchor to the cathead.
- a double tripod having six legs but resting on only three no matter how it is set down, usually used before or over a fire.
- Navy Informal. catapult(def 2).
- (in medieval warfare) a movable shelter for providing protection when approaching a fortification.
- to flog with a cat-o'-nine-tails.
- Nautical. to hoist (an anchor) and secure to a cathead.
- British Slang. to vomit.
- cat around, Slang.
- to spend one's time aimlessly or idly.
- to seek sexual activity indiscriminately; tomcat.
- bell the cat, to attempt something formidable or dangerous.
- let the cat out of the bag, to divulge a secret, especially inadvertently or carelessly: He let the cat out of the bag, and the surprise party wasn't a surprise after all.
Origin of cat
- computer-aided teaching
- computer-assisted trading
- Also called: domestic cat a small domesticated feline mammal, Felis catus (or domesticus), having thick soft fur and occurring in many breeds in which the colour of the fur varies greatly: kept as a pet or to catch rats and mice
- Also called: big cat any of the larger felines, such as a lion or tiger
- any wild feline mammal of the genus Felis, such as the lynx or serval, resembling the domestic catRelated adjective: feline
- old-fashioned a woman who gossips maliciously
- slang a man; guy
- nautical a heavy tackle for hoisting an anchor to the cathead
- a short sharp-ended piece of wood used in the game of tipcat
- short for catboat
- informal short for Caterpillar
- short for cat-o'-nine-tails
- a bag of cats Irish informal a bad-tempered personshe's a real bag of cats this morning
- fight like Kilkenny cats to fight until both parties are destroyed
- let the cat out of the bag to disclose a secret, often by mistake
- like a cat on a hot tin roof or like a cat on hot bricks in an uneasy or agitated state
- like cat and dog quarrelling savagely
- look like something the cat brought in to appear dishevelled or bedraggled
- not a cat in hell's chance no chance at all
- not have room to swing a cat to have very little space
- play cat and mouse to play with a person or animal in a cruel or teasing way, esp before a final act of cruelty or unkindness
- put the cat among the pigeons to introduce some violently disturbing new element
- rain cats and dogs to rain very heavily
- (tr) to flog with a cat-o'-nine-tails
- (tr) nautical to hoist (an anchor) to the cathead
- (intr) a slang word for vomit
- informal short for catamaran (def. 1)
- short for catalytic converter
- (as modifier)a cat car
- short for catalytic a cat cracker
Word Origin and History for let the cat out of the bag
Old English catt (c.700), from West Germanic (c.400-450), from Proto-Germanic *kattuz (cf. Old Frisian katte, Old Norse köttr, Dutch kat, Old High German kazza, German Katze), from Late Latin cattus.
The near-universal European word now, it appeared in Europe as Latin catta (Martial, c.75 C.E.), Byzantine Greek katta (c.350) and was in general use on the continent by c.700, replacing Latin feles. Probably ultimately Afro-Asiatic (cf. Nubian kadis, Berber kadiska, both meaning "cat"). Arabic qitt "tomcat" may be from the same source. Cats were domestic in Egypt from c.2000 B.C.E., but not a familiar household animal to classical Greeks and Romans. The nine lives have been proverbial since at least 1560s.
The Late Latin word also is the source of Old Irish and Gaelic cat, Welsh kath, Breton kaz, Italian gatto, Spanish gato, French chat (12c.). Independent, but ultimately from the same source are words in the Slavic group: Old Church Slavonic kotuka, kotel'a, Bulgarian kotka, Russian koška, Polish kot, along with Lithuanian kate and non-Indo-European Finnish katti, which is from Lithuanian.
Extended to lions, tigers, etc. c.1600. As a term of contempt for a woman, from early 13c. Slang sense of "prostitute" is from at least c.1400. Slang sense of "fellow, guy," is from 1920, originally in U.S. Black English; narrower sense of "jazz enthusiast" is recorded from 1931.
Cat's paw (1769, but cat's foot in the same sense, 1590s) refers to old folk tale in which the monkey tricks the cat into pawing chestnuts from a fire; the monkey gets the nuts, the cat gets a burnt paw. Cat bath "hurried or partial cleaning" is from 1953. Cat burglar is from 1907, so called for stealth. Cat-witted "small-minded, obstinate, and spiteful" (1670s) deserved to survive. For Cat's meow, cat's pajamas, see bee's knees.
1975, medical acronym for computerized axial tomography or something like it. Related: CAT scan.
- computerized axial tomography
let the cat out of the bag
To disclose a secret: “The mayor's visit was to be kept strictly confidential, but someone must have let the cat out of the bag, because the airport was swarming with reporters.”
Idioms and Phrases with let the cat out of the bag
let the cat out of the bag
Give away a secret, as in Mom let the cat out of the bag and told us Karen was engaged. This expression alludes to the dishonest practice of a merchant substituting a worthless cat for a valuable pig, which is discovered only when the buyer gets home and opens the bag. [Mid-1700s] Also see pig in a poke.
In addition to the idioms beginning with cat
- alley cat
- bell the cat
- curiosity killed the cat
- fat cat
- grin like a Cheshire cat
- let the cat out of the bag
- like a cat on a hot brick
- look like something the cat dragged in
- look like the cat that ate the canary
- more than one way to skin a cat
- not enough room to swing a cat
- play cat and mouse
- rain cats and dogs
- when the cat's away