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Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Idioms about cat

    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

First recorded before 900; Middle English cat, catte, Old English catt (masculine), catte (feminine); cognate with Old Frisian, Middle Dutch katte, Old High German kazza, Old Norse kǫttr, Irish cat, Welsh cath (unattested Slavic kotŭ, Lithuanian katė̃ perhaps from Germanic ), Late Latin cattus, catta (first attested in the 4th century, presumably with the introduction of domestic cats); further origin uncertain

Other definitions for cat (2 of 4)

[ kat ]
/ kæt /

a Caterpillar tractor.

Other definitions for cat (3 of 4)


clear-air turbulence.
Medicine/Medical. computerized axial tomography.
Compare CAT scanner.

Other definitions for cat (4 of 4)


catalog; catalogue.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Where does the word cat come from?

While cats may be more enigmatic and reclusive than dogs in real life, when it comes to the source of the word cat, it’s a bit easier to grasp.

The origin of the word dog is one of the great mysteries of English etymology. Learn why in our slideshow “‘Dog,’ ‘Boy,’ And Other Words That We Don’t Know Where They Came From.”

The word cat is recorded in Old English, and hasn’t changed much since. (Hey, if it isn’t broken why fix it?) The masculine form was catt, the feminine catte.

The word cat is most likely related to the Late Latin cattus, source of some other cat words you may have heard, including the Spanish gato and French chat.

Now that you know how cats got their name, why not find out how some of our other most beloved pets got theirs in the slideshow: “Where Do The Words For Our Pets Come From?”

Did you know … ?

Cats are actually an interesting case among domesticated animals. Recent research has shown that—unlike the other animals humans have domesticated, such as dogs, pigs, cows, and horses—cats have not changed much at all genetically and physically over thousands of years. And, yet, cats have clearly lived alongside humans for a long time, as even ancient Egyptian art depicts cats living in people’s homes. Cats’ behaviors compel some experts to refer to them as “semi-domesticated,” “self-domesticated,” or not domesticated at all.

The International Cat Association currently recognizes 71 breeds of cat breeds, ranging from the American Shorthair and Maine Coon to the Savannah cat and Bengal cat. (No, Doja Cat isn’t the name of a pedigree cat; it’s the stage name of Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, a hip-hop artist who broke into the mainstream with her 2019 album Hot Pink.)On average, domestic cats live for around 15 years, and spend over half that time sleeping—their wakeful hours, of course, pulsing with purring. But why do cats purr? The exact answer remains a mystery, but cats purr when they are both content and nervous, and they make the sound by moving the muscles in their larynx, which causes the air to vibrate. Some scientists think purring evolved as a way to calm themselves down.

Our relationship to cats have inspired a great number of idioms, such as:

Cats have also excited a lot of contemporary internet slang and language play, from LOLcat to cat memes like Nyan Cat, Grumpy Cat, Woman Yells at Cat, and many more.

How to use cat in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cat (1 of 5)

/ (kæt) /

verb cats, catting or catted

Derived forms of cat

catlike, adjectivecattish, adjective

Word Origin for cat

Old English catte, from Latin cattus; related to Old Norse köttr, Old High German kazza, Old French chat, Russian kot

British Dictionary definitions for cat (2 of 5)

/ (kæt) /

informal short for catamaran (def. 1)

British Dictionary definitions for cat (3 of 5)

/ (kæt) /

  1. short for catalytic converter
  2. (as modifier)a cat car
short for catalytic a cat cracker

British Dictionary definitions for cat (4 of 5)


abbreviation for
computer-aided teaching
computer-assisted trading

British Dictionary definitions for cat (5 of 5)


abbreviation for
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with cat


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.