Posted by R. Berg on April 21, 2003
In Reply to: Put money in the kitty. posted by Bookworm on April 21, 2003
: : Put money in the kitty. I've searched all over the internet and can't find any meaning for this term; however, I can find endless uses of the term.
: It's used primarily in the game of poker, and I believe that its origin may be found there as well. It means to put money into the pot (i.e. ante). However, its usage has evolved to refer to contributing to any pool of money.
: Main Entry: 1an·te
: Pronunciation: 'an-tE
: Function: noun
: Etymology: ante-
: Date: 1838
: 1 : a poker stake usually put up before the deal to build the pot
The Oxford English Dictionary has a quotation from 1892 using "kitty" in this sense. Earlier (OED has a quotation from 1825), "kitty" was "north. dial. and slang" for a prison.
OED says of "kitty" in these two slang senses "Origin uncertain; cf. 'kidcote.'" "Kidcote" is "the name formerly given in various towns (as York, Lancaster, etc.) to the lock-up or prison."
So maybe--speculating here--the kitty is called that because it's an enclosure (for money) and there are strict rules limiting when a player may draw out the contents.