Posted by ESC on June 03, 2003
In Reply to: Who's she - the cats mother? posted by Caz on June 03, 2003
: Can anyone tell me what the origin of this saying is? My mother says it all the time, and I've always wondered?
: Thanks for any help!!
"Who is 'she'? The cat's mother."
It is considered rude to refer to one's mother as the generic "she" instead of calling her "mother," etc.
From the archives:
From Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British": 'she' is a (or 'the') cat's mother. One of the two or three best-known of the domestic catchphrases, this has, mid (?early) C19-20, been addressed, usually by a parent, to a child, whether very young or teenaged, referring thus to his or her mother. By 1960, slightly ob.
There is a variant.: 'who is "she"? the cat's grandmother?': late C19-mid C20.
We don't have this saying in the US as far as I know. From what Partridge says, I gather that it's used to reprimand children for calling their mothers "she" instead of something more proper.