New Word #48 : Cats And Dogs

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

There are many lively phrases and idioms with animals in them. Here I have compiled a list of phrases that are commonly used. There are a lot more out there that I haven’t heard of. And please let me know if you have encountered any.


curiosity killed the cat: being inquisitive about other people’s affairs may get you into trouble.

let cat out of the bag: reveal a secret carelessly or by mistake.

cat on the hot tin roof: It is used to describe someone who is in a state of extreme nervous worry. I actually haven’t seen anybody use this phrase, but it is a title of a play by Tennessee Williams. I have a DVD of a movie adapted from the play with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, but I haven’t watched it yet.

raining cats and dogs: raining unusually hard

cat people and dog people: The terms dog people and cat people refer to a person’s domesticated pet animal preference.

cat with nine lives: It is used to describe a person who keeps managing to get out of difficult or dangerous situations without being hurt or harmed.


doggy bag: a bag used by a restaurant customer or party guest to take home leftover food, supposedly for their dog.

dog eat dog: used to refer to a situation of fierce competition in which people are willing to harm each other in order to succeed.

let sleeping dog lie: avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but might do so as a result of such interference.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks: It is used to say that a person who is old or is used to doing things in a certain way cannot learn or does not want to learn a new way.

puppy love: intense but relatively shallow romantic attachment, associated with adolescents.

work like a dog: put in a lot of effort

dogeared: (of an object made from paper) having the corners worn or battered with use.

underdog: a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

top dog: a person who is successful or dominant in their field.

Other Animals

beat a dead horse: waste energy on a lost cause or a situation that cannot be changed.

rat race: a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power.

wild goose chase: a foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable.

big fish in a pond: a person who is very well known or important in a small group of people but who is not known or important outside that group

happy as a clam: very happy. I don’t quite understand this phase since I can’t seem to comprehend why clam should be singled out to be the symbol of happiness.

horseplay: rough, boisterous play.

high horse: If you say someone is on his high horse, it means that he will behave as though he’s superior to everyone around him, almost like a haughty king riding his horse past his lowly subjects

the elephant in the room: a major problem or controversial issue that is obviously present but avoided as a subject for discussion because it is more comfortable to do so.

the lion’s share: the largest part of something.

pig-headed: stupidly obstinate.

a can of worms: to create a complicated situation in which doing something to correct a problem leads to many more problems.

butterflies in the stomach: If you have butterflies in your stomach or have butterflies, you are very nervous or excited about something.

cold turkey: “Cold turkey” refers to the abrupt cessation of a substance dependence and the resulting unpleasant experience, as opposed to gradually easing the process through reduction over time or by using replacement medication. It also means in a sudden and abrupt manner, like in here–“many banks have cut commercial builders off cold turkey”.

cash cow: a business, investment, or product that provides a steady income or profit.

kill two birds with one stone: to achieve two things by doing a single action

34 thoughts on “New Word #48 : Cats And Dogs

    1. Me neither. Now you mentioned it, I think my unwillingness might come from the fact that I don’t know if these phrases are suitable for written English. Are they too colloquial? Are they good for formal occasions? As a faux pas expert who cannot write without falling into language pitfalls for years, I am wary of them although I like them very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Let’s admit that life is a rat race and everyone wants to kill two birds with one stone. We all want cash cow. We also want to win in this dog-eat-dog rat race that we call life. Despite this, People end their lives over failed puppy love! πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜† Sorry; that was baad lol!
    Great post, as always. Nice and helpful collection of idioms and phrases.
    PS: Puppy love is my personal favourite in this πŸ˜†πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, what a wonderful description of rat race and cash cow and the comically disappointing dog-eat-dog world. Puppy love is my favorite too. Some people mock puppy love, but I think differently. “Romeo and Juliet” is the best puppy love of all and how wonderful. We all root for them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Love the elephant in the room. It is so vivid. The way we deliberately ignore the real issue is comically distressing, isn’t it?
      Love the phrase donkey brained. You are so right. Donkeys are wonderful animals but some humans abuse donkeys. Stop all the abuses.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We still use like a Cat On Hot Tin Roof. It is also my favourite Tennessee Williams play. You should watch the movie. I think it’s great and there isn’t a better cast in existence as it also has the wonderful Burl Ives. I can still recall his performance in this so many years later.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Wow, I will try to find the time to watch it then. It sounds wonderful. Your favorite? I like his play “desire under the elms” which I think is great but it is not really regarded as his good plays. LOL. Let me compare “Cat on Hot Tin Roof”. I really need to find the time to watch it.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. His movies are from older time period, from the 60s to the 80s, but he was one of the best. You have “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, which I have yet to watch. I also recommend, “Cool Hand Luke” and the “Color of Money”.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a worthy phrase. All these phrases about work like a dog and dog tired. I mean dogs are loyal and affectionate, but I really don’t see them as hardworking. They are usually very energetic, tiring people out rather than being tired themselves.


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