scaredy-cat

[ skair-dee-kat ]
/ ˈskɛər diˌkæt /

noun Informal.

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Origin of scaredy-cat

First recorded in 1930–35; scared + -y2 + cat (in the slang sense “person, man”)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does scaredy-cat mean?

A scaredy-cat is a person who is easily frightened.

Scaredy-cat is very informal and is most often used by children. It is synonymous with fraidy-cat.

Example: He won’t go into the haunted house because he’s a scaredy-cat.

Where does scaredy-cat come from?

The first records of scaredy-cat come from the 1930s. It is a combination of scared, the adjective version of the verb scare, and the suffix -y, which is used to make adjectives. (Of course, scared is already an adjective, so adding a –y to it is unusual, but not unheard of—the same thing happens in the word raggedy). The word scaredy can be used by itself, but this is very uncommon. The synonym fraidy-cat is recorded earlier, in the early 1900s, and is based on a shortening of the word afraid. Both terms probably use the word cat because cats are known for being easily startled.

Scaredy-cat is mostly used by children as an insult or a playful tease, but it is also used by adults, especially when trying to be a bit funny by using a childish word. Scaredy-cat can be applied to someone who is afraid to do something or to someone who is generally timid or cowardly. Most commonly, it is used when trying to pressure someone to do something that they’re afraid of, as in Don’t be such a scaredy-cat—just climb this really steep cliff with us so we can explore that pitch black cave that’s infested with spiders and probably haunted!

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What are some synonyms for scaredy-cat?

What are some words that share a root or word element with scaredy-cat

 

What are some words that often get used in discussing scaredy-cat?

How is scaredy-cat used in real life?

Scaredy-cat is used as an insult, but it’s usually a lighthearted one.

 

 

Try using scaredy-cat!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe a scaredy-cat?

A. timid
B. jittery
C. composed
D. jumpy

British Dictionary definitions for scaredy-cat

scaredy-cat
/ (ˈskɛədɪˌkæt) /

noun

informal someone who is easily frightened
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