8
   

there is no room to swing a cat

 
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 02:46 am
Please, anyone, I know that this sentence means there is not enough space, or the place is not big enough, however, I really want to know what does "swing"mean in this expression?(i want to know the origin of this idiom), thank you very much!
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 03:47 am
@avalipeng,
I have always assumed that if you could grab a cat by the tail and swing it in a full circle, there was room to swing a cat. In reality, I'm pretty sure you would end up with a terribly bloody hand and arm.

Just guessing, of course.
avalipeng
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 04:40 am
@roger,
I just like your explanation!
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 07:43 pm
@avalipeng,
The way I always heard this quote was something like, "The room was so crowded that you couldn't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting someone." Where that came from and what it means I have no idea, but it leaves a memorable image.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 08:28 pm
@rosborne979,
Hear the one about the blind that dropped into the local K-Mart?

Just inside the door, he grabbed his seeing eye dog by the tail and started swinging him in a circle. So, this little management guy in white shirt and tie runs up and says "Sir. Sir. What are you doing? You can't do that in this store". The blind guy says "Oh, just looking around".
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 08:45 pm
@roger,
You made me make a sound like a pained yak with that one roger.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 08:46 pm
"You couldn't/can't swing a dead cat without hitting a _______ in here."
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2015 10:02 pm
Have you tried swinging a mouse ?
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2015 08:04 am
The expression comes from the British Navy and the cat was an animal but a flail-like whip used to punish sailors in the British Navy isn't clear. Many reports claim that the cat in question is the 'cat o'nine tails'. As so often though, they don't supply evidence, just certainty. As a candidate for folk etymology goes the 'cat o' nine tails' story has it all - plausibility, a strong
storyline and a nautical origin.
That's enough to convince many people - the actual evidence shows the theory to be highly dubious. The phrase itself dates from at least the 17th century. Richard Kephale's Medela Pestilentiae, 1665:
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2015 09:14 am
@avalipeng,
Quote:
I just like your explanation!
Peng I do too. Oft find Rog's responses delightful
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2015 03:43 pm
@saab,

Saab's got it, a cat o' nine tails, used to punish sailors in Napoleonic times.
It's a whip or scourge.

https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=JN.zwiaA4mN7qFfVFGW%2biSKDg&pid=15.1&rs=1&c=1&qlt=95&w=127&h=86
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2015 04:36 am
@McTag,


I think a stout rope, used to make a "cat", would commonly be made from three
spun strands, each composed of three small strands.
Hence, when you unravel the whipping end (that is, the business end because you would need a "whipping" or two on the handle (isn't English an awkward language?)) then you would have a whip of nine strands or tails.

Just a guess.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2015 05:44 am
The cat o' nine tails was in sue long before Napoleon was born--and it was not used exclusively by the Royal Navy. The British army flogged its members, too. That explanation sounds like a candidate from CANOE . . . the Committee to Ascribe Nautical Origins to Everything.
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  3  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2015 02:14 pm


The British Army had a similar multiple whip, though much lighter in construction, made of a drumstick with attached strings. The flogger was usually a drummer rather than a strong bosun's mate. Flogging with the cat o' nine tails fell into disuse around 1870.
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2015 08:52 pm
The Guards were the last units in the British Army to remove flogging from the list of punishments for various offences in the 1960's . It had not been used for over a century .
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2015 08:53 pm
@McTag,
Don't care. I liked my answer better.
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2015 01:58 am
@roger,

So did I.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2015 06:13 am
@McTag,
Me too
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2015 08:38 pm
I didnt like anyone's, even mine .
0 Replies
 
 

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