14 May 2009

Idioms & Slang: “No room to swing a cat”


No room to swing a cat” is an expression used to mean an awkwardly small and confined space.

The origins of this idiomatic expression are dubious. Some think it may refer to the ‘cat-o-nine-tails,’ a whip used to punish sailors in the British Navy that required space in order to swing it. Even though it seems plausible in theory, the expression seems to be older dating back to the 17th century. There seems to have existed an old sport where cats were swung by their tails as targets for archers!!

    • Get a sofa in the living room? You’ll be lucky – there isn’t enough room to swing a cat in there.

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