Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Cat is in the bag

The origin of the saying "The Cat is in the bag"has it's origin with the British Royal Navy.In the 1700s,flogging on Royal Navy ships was common for disciplinary purposes or at the whim of the captain,who wielded absolute power.The instrument used to administer flogging,or whipping,was a whip 3 to 6 feet in length containing 9 strands of leather about the size of a thick shoestring.This whip was called the "Cat 'o Nine Tails".Knots were made at the ends of the leather strands,and even 10 lashes would draw blood from a seaman's back.Some captains have been recorded as ordering hundreds of lashes.The officer who would administer floggings kept his Cat 'o Nine in a leather or canvas bag to protect it from the elements.Hence,low ranking sailors coined the thankful expression "The Cat's in the Bag."Conversely,a seaman who comitted a disgression or who drew his captain's ire must have surely felt ill hearing his shipmates say "The Cat's out of the Bag!"

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