Language: Old English
Origin: catt, probably from Latin cattus, catta


cat S1 W3 [countable]
a) DHP a small animal with four legs that people often keep as a pet. Cats sometimes kill small animals and birds [↪ feline]
a tom cat (=a male cat)
b) HBA also big cat a large animal such as a lion or tiger

let the cat out of the bag

to tell someone a secret, especially without intending to

put/set the cat among the pigeons

to do or say something that causes arguments, trouble etc

play (a game of) cat and mouse (with somebody)

to pretend to allow someone to do or have what they want, and then to stop them from doing or having it:
The police played an elaborate game of cat and mouse to trap him.

the cat's whiskers/pyjamas

informal something or someone that is better than everything else:
I really thought I looked the cat's whiskers in that dress.

like a cat on hot bricks

British English, like a cat on a hot tin roof American English so nervous or anxious that you cannot keep still or keep your attention on one thing

not stand/have a cat in hell's chance (of doing something)

informal to not have any chance of succeeding:
They don't have a cat in hell's chance of being elected.

when the cat's away (the mice will play)

used to say that people will not behave well when the person who has authority over them is not there

like the cat that got the cream

British English, like the cat that ate the canary American English informal very proud or pleased because of something you have achieved or got

look like something the cat dragged/brought in

British English informal to look very dirty or untidy

➔ raining cats and dogs

at rain2 (1)

; ➔ there's not enough room to swing a cat

at room1 (5)

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