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English Idiom of the Day – Cat got your tongue?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 09:02 AM
posted by Jo

Cat got your tongue?

If someone asks if the cat has got your tongue, they want to know why you are not speaking when they think you should.  It is was used most commonly when addressing a child who refused to answer a parent's questions after doing something naughty, but is now used more generally to ask why someone is not speaking.

Example: After she finished the story, I kept silent. "What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" she asked.

Did you know...?   There are a few theories about where this expression came from.  One theory is that it came from an ancient punishment of cutting out the tongues of liars and feeding them to cats!   Another theory is that it came from the Middle Ages when witches were greatly feared and often put to death. It was believed that if you saw a witch, her cat would somehow "steal" or control your tongue so you couldn't report the sighting.

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