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The cat is out of the barn

Posted by ESC on August 26, 2009 at 11:58

In Reply to: The cat is out of the barn posted by Vair on August 25, 2009 at 10:24:

: : : The horse is out of the barn: For fun, I collect mashed metaphors (e.g., "wake up and smell the roses" -- I'm sure you've heard many, and your site would be a great place for an amusing collection of them), and sometimes end up wondering about the original, taken-for-granted pieces. Some time back, I heard an economist say "the cat is out of the barn", a swell combination. But in my feeble searches, I haven't found the real horse-and-barn phrase. What is it? Is it something about locking the barn door after the horse is stolen? Or is that a different phrase? I have no doubt that some of the regulars here can give the right words and explain it all... thanks!

: : Don't close (bar, lock, shut) the barn (stable) door after the horse runs away (has fled, has been stolen). "Originally referring to horse stealing, but now applied to anything that is done too late rather than too early. The proverb has been traced back to 'Douce Ms' (c. 1350)and is similar to Medieval French...The stable is shut too late, when the horse is lost..." "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Page 62.

: : A couple of my favorite twisted phrases: You've buttered your bread, now sleep in it. (Said by Mickey Mouse.) And...we'll burn that bridge when we cross it.

: Thanks to ESC for history and two good laughs. Searching on-line, I was starting to think I must have the horse part all wrong, and instead it's got centuries of history. Though on-line got me to you, cue up another use of the Twain phrase: reports of books' demise... I wish I had your library! A fun mash I was given recently: "the elephant in the closet." Thanks again.

I think that collection would be a book. I'd buy it! Not that I need to be buying more books. I have a ton already. And my son is storing his library here since he's making a move cross country. What I need now is bookshelves.