Using Everyday Words Relating to Cats

Here are some words we humans use in conversation that we probably don’t even thing about. But did you ever wonder how they all began?

Copycat The origin of this word is unknown. But it is believed to have been used long before it was noted in 1887 in the book by Constance Cary Harrison, “Bar Harbor Days,” when she referred to it. Copycat means imitating what another person says or does. It is often used when describing villanous acts – copycat criminal.

Catcall is a loud, shrill, whistling sound similar to that of an angry cat. It was often heard in the time of Shakespeare when audiences voiced their disapproval of a stage performer or performance.

Catfight Although this word first came to light in 1854, it’s a common expression today, especially on some TV shows. Catfight describes a lowdown, drag-out between two women (men also these days) who shriek like cats, scratch, pull hair, slap and more.

Cat Burglar This term was thought to be used since 1907. It describes a thief who is as quiet as a cat stalking prey.

Catnap Cats can sleep up to 18 hours a day, but they take short naps. The expression was first heard in 1823 referring to a human’s period of light sleep.

Catty refers to someone whose remarks about another person are mean, spiteful, insulting, petty. It probably originated due to some misinformed people’s opinion of a cat’s personality.

Pussyfoot describes a person who acts cautiously, avoiding making decisions. Pussyfoot is an American word going back at least to 1893. It possibly relates to the way cats move before striking prey.

Cat’s Pajamas/Cat’s Meow These phrases mean exactly the same. They are used to describe a person, event or something else that is extra special, exciting, awesome. Some other expressions using an animal with an article of clothing or a body part are bee’s knees, clam garters, pig’s wings. Do you know any others?

Kitty Corner This is an expression generally used in the Northern United States. Southerners usually say Catty Corner. Cater Corner was the original term used for placing something diagonally, such as a piece of furniture. It was just easier to say kitty or catty.

There seems to be no end to common words and phrases relating to cats that are used in everyday conversation – catwalk, fraidy-cat, cat and mouse games. We would really like to hear from you if you can add more expressions.

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