Word Play


We were lying on Zoe’s bed keeping her company while she was falling asleep, and we got to talking (quietly!) about words, specifically cat sayings and expressions.


Sasha, what does it mean when someone says that a person looks like “the cat who swallowed the canary”?

Well, Lola, you know when you’ve half eaten a bird and you get a feather sideways down your throat and you look a little sick? It’s that look.

Lola, what does it mean to “let the cat out of the bag?

Well, Sasha, you know how I like to climb into Zoe’s suitcase when she is packing?


Well, what if Zoe zipped up the bag with me in it! Then I would be meowing like crazy to be let out. And then Zoe would unzip the bag and “let the cat out of the bag”!

Sasha, what is a “scaredy cat”?

Well, Lola, not a lot of people know this but the original saying was “scaredy cow”. And that saying is related to the word, “coward” , which was originally “cow-herd” . But don’t get me started on expressions with the word cow in it. That is a subject for another conversation.

We have noticed that a lot of human sayings involve torturing cats or dead cats. For example:

Curiosity killed the cat.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

No room to swing a dead cat.

Cat on a hot tin roof.

Humans seem to have it in for cats.

Dear readers: If you know any other cat related sayings, idioms or expressions (that includes foreign languages) please leave a comment below.

And here is a little challenge for you:

what does the saying “All cats are gray in the dark” mean?


Obviously, Lola’s and Sasha’s explanations for the different sayings were not even near the correct meaning. (This was Zoe writing the fun fact.)


6 thoughts on “Word Play

  1. “All cats are gray in the dark” means that in the dark, physical appearance is unimportant. It’s a Benjamin Franklin quote, right?


    • Hey Livy, you are mostly right! According to Wiktionary: “Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, explaining why to take an older woman to bed, but appears in John Heywood’s book of proverbs (1546) as ‘When all candles be out, all cats be grey.'” Tell your mom that! She will love it!
      L&S 😉


  2. This is definely one of my favorite of your posts 😻👏🏼🎈🇩🇰
    I have found somme sayings:
    Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back
    He brought the cat in the bag.
    To circle like the cat around the plate with hot porridge..
    When the cat is away the mice play on the table.
    Coffee should be as black as the cat’s consiousness.

    I understand the expression: “In the dark all cats are grey ” as a reminder: when you meet strangers
    in the dark, you are not alle to distinguise good from bad, as you get a foggy impression of them.



    • Hej Mette, see what I replied to Livy, above.
      Thanks for sharing those cat sayings, they where really good! Some of the Danish sayings also exist in English and some of them don’t. We thought of another expression: The cat’s pyjamas, which means:
      A highly sought-after and fancy example of something, usually referring to inanimate objects. Thats funny because we never wear pyjamas!!!
      L&S 😉


  3. In Norwegian we say “Det ser ut som noe katta har dratt inn”, meaning something looks like something tha cat has brought inside, normally something ugly.

    We are also cursing “Fytti katta!” (?%# the cat)

    Catfights – fights between women. Women are often compared to cats in many ways.

    “Å kjøpe katta i sekken” (to buy the cat in the sack), meaning you don’t know what you buy, a bad trade.

    “Kattevask” (cat wash): a very quick wash without soap.

    “Kattemusikk” (cat music): dissonant music, like a conceert of meowing cats.

    All (adult) cat lovers should read the book by Haruki Murakami “Kafka on the shore” (“Kafka på stranden”). Children can watch the Japanese Studio Ghibli movie “The cat returns” (“Katteprinsen”).


    • Hi Winfried! Welcome to our world! Thanks for all those sayings! See what we said to Mette, above.
      We love Studio Ghibli movies and we will try to find this movie.
      L&S 🙂


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