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Norwich Bulletin - 11/7/2004

The Word Is Cat

At dinner the other night, my family and I decided to play a word game, all involving the word cat. We had so many words and phrases that I decided it would make a great column! Try using some of these words in a sentence in the next week or so.

When a person is spiteful and mocking, we say they are catty. When someone is toying with another person's feelings, we say they are playing cat and mouse. I often called my daughter, when she was pouting a pickle puss and when she was all dressed up I called her a glamour puss! When my husband has had a hard day of physical labor outside I tell him he looks like something the cat dragged in and sometimes, when we argue, we "fight like cats and dogs."

We ask shy children if the cat's got their tongue and refer to people who copy someone else's persona, a copycat. We also tend to use the word cat to describe men. For instance someone who sleeps around is known as a Tom cat and a lazy, immoral man is said to be catting around.

And then there are lots of cat words to describe people. Gorgeous men and women are the cat's meow, a coward is a scaredy cat. People who are afraid for no reason are Fraidy cats and rich people are Fat cats. A bad tempered woman is a She-cat or Hell-cat and a person who is on top of all the latest fads is a Hep cat. A person who always remains calm is a Cool cat and a thief who climbs through windows is a cat burglar. And a person who is one of a kind is often referred to as another breed of cat.

People who live together and argue all the time lead a cat and dog life. Children play a game with string called Cat's Cradle and if you can see well in the dark, you must have cat eyes, not to be confused with cat's eyes, which are generally a person with vivid green eyes, not to be confused further with a cat's eye which is a precious gem. Going from eyes to feet, if you are a hen pecked man, you are under the cat's foot!

Spending a half hour dozing is referred to as a catnap and drinking weak tea and milk is a catlap! And if you are a nervous Nelly, you are like a cat on a hot tin roof! I have one of my living room tables at an angle and it is said to be, kitty corner. A narrow walkway is a catwalk

Don't forget the wonderful Pussy Willows that grow outside, and the flower bracts of trees such as willows and birches are called Catkins. And on the branches of these trees sit a bird whose call sound like a meow and they are, of course, called Catbirds.

When attending a sports event or show that is disappointing, you may hear catcalls. If it is pouring outside, it may be raining cats and dogs. Now if you sat around and watched before you joined in any type of situation, you would be waiting to see which way the cat jumped; or perhaps you were just being indecisive and in that case you would be pussy footing around.

You could egg people on and irritate them by rubbing their fur the wrong way, or actually start a fight which would be making the fur fly. Of course you could just start the trouble by putting the cat among the pigeons.

Cat's are very much a part of our everyday language; so much so we hardly realize just how many words are derived from our feline friends. They all tend to show the independent and affirmative nature of the cat. As far as this entire column goes, it is pretty silly and just enough to make a cat laugh!

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