phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

To put your mind at ease

Posted by ESC on February 10, 2004

In Reply to: "There's more than one way to skin a cat" posted by ESC on February 10, 2004

: : : : Hi? Does anyone have the scientific way of saying this expression? Something like:
: : : : "There exist numerous methods of removing the epidermis from a feline cadaver." And is there a name for such expressions?

: : : How about:

: : : gobbledygook (from Merriam-Webster online) --
: : : Variant(s): also gob·ble·de·gook /'gä-b&l-dE-"guk, -"gük/
: : : Function: noun
: : : Etymology: irregular from gobble, n.
: : : : wordy and generally unintelligible jargon

: : : From the ESC archives:

: : : Do not compute the totality of your
: : : poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed.

: : : Do not, however disadvantageous the
: : : circumstances, permit yourselves to be forced into a position where you must
: : : acquiesce in the transfer of management of this maritime means of transportation to persons owing allegiance to such nation whose interests are avowedly inimical to those of ours as set forth in applicable regulations.

: : I get the first one, Don't count your chickens before they're hatched. I'm not sure about the second. Could it be Row your own boat? As for the cat, since I'm a cat-owner I'm loath to think much about skinning one. But is there really more than one way to do it (and do I well)? SS

: Don't give up the ship!

No animals are harmed in this expression.

SKIN THE CAT - According to Charles Earle Funk in "A Hog on Ice" (Harper & Row, New York, 1948) the expression "to skin the cat" refers to a boy's gymnastic trick: "In America, as any country boy knows, this means to hang by the hands from a branch or bar, draw the legs up through the arms and over the branch, and pull oneself up into a sitting position. As we must abide by the record, we cannot say positively that the name for this violent small-boy exercise is more than a century old, but it is highly likely that Ben Franklin or earlier American lads had the same name for it. No one got around to putting it into print until about 1845. One can't be sure why the operation was called 'skinning the cat,' but maybe some mother, seeing it for the first time, saw in it some resemblance to the physical operation of removing the pelt from a cat, first from the forelegs and down over the body." Mr. Funk doesn't say WHY anyone would actually skin a cat, but anyway.

: "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996) lists the expression "more than one way to skin a cat" but doesn't really address the origin. Mr. Titelman does say it dates back to the 1678: "MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT --There are many ways to do something. The proverb appeared in John Ray's collection of English proverbs in 1678, and is first attested in the United States in 'John Smith's Letters' . 'There are more ways to kill a cat besides choking him to death' is a variant of the saying. The words 'with butter' or 'on cream' may replace the words 'to death' in the latter version."