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Cat out of the bag

Posted by Edward on May 31, 2005

Cat out of the bag - I was told this has a nautical derivation, closely linked to 'no room to swing a cat'. Both terms referring to the cat of nine tails, rather than an actual moggy. Apparently the 'cat' in question was kept in a muslin bag and you were obviously in serious trouble if the cat came out of the bag.

It all sounds very plausible, especially with other popular English sayings having a nautical derivation, such as square meal etc. - but is it fact?