People are only just realising where the phrase ‘cat got your tongue’ comes from, and it’s gruesome | The Sun

EVER heard the phrase “cat got your tongue” and wondered where it came from?

It turns out that the history behind it is very gruesome indeed, as you may expect.

According to BBC’s History Extra, there may be two explanations behind the famous saying.

The first is that ancient Egyptian kings would cut out the tongues of people who displeased them – such as liars – and feed them to their cats.

This also ties in with a similar theory that some people think that witches used to “steal a person’s speech” by removing their tongue and giving it to their cats.

However, there is a second theory behind the name.

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Some people think the phrase came from a whip called a “cat-o’-nine tails”, that was used by the English navy for flogging victims, rendering them speechless.

It is thought some people would fall silent at the mere mention of the whip.

Historians have looked back to find the first recorded usage of the phrase, and an early record was back in 1881 in the US publication Ballou's Monthly Magazine.

It also appears in the 1911 novel Bob Hardwick by Henry Howard Harper.

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There is also a saying in French which is similar, “je jette ma langue au chat”, which translates as “I throw my tongue to the cat”. 

It has a slightly different meaning, however, and is used in the place of “I have nothing to say.”

While the official origins may be blurry, it’s certainly a phrase that has stood the test of time over a century.

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