Let the Cat out of the Bag

What is the origin of the phrase “Let the cat out of the bag?”

Let’s play a little game.


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239 Responses to Let the Cat out of the Bag

  1. muggins says:

    Putting cats in the bag.

    Out on the northern prairie farm land that my dad lived on, my grandmother was good enough to volunteer my dad, then just a young kid, to help out any neighbor who was burdened with a new litter of kittens, by drowning the litter. The idea was that too many cats reduced the population of game birds that lived in the fields. Folks hunted game birds to put food on the table. The method of drowning was to stuff the poor doomed kittens into a gunny sack weighted with rocks and heave the sack into the river. After a few of these jobs, my dad wised up and told my gramma, after she told him to go to a neighbor’s house to drown yet another litter, he told her that the neighbors can drown their own kittens.

  2. greatestpotential says:

    ;-) Let’s play a little game…

  3. michael r says:

    i hope its the wip the last one is sad :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:

  4. swampwiz says:

    I would rather get spanked by Marina then be her teacher’s pet.

  5. inkedpapa says:

    I think it is #one. Roman style.

  6. 2utoday says:

    :mrgreen: I am so confused! What does a cat have to do with anything? I’m still trying to figure out how to turn my computer off.

  7. leonard says:

    I had a Russian Blue cat. Very smart…whipping good…don’t eat rabbits

  8. sindri says:

    Oh my Marina talking about a cat o nine tails rrrrr!! She needs a giant shoe like hotforprofits uses. Although I guess Kobe makes a good prop as well.

  9. wacko76 says:

    Actually, there is a German saying about “buying a cat in a bag” (Die Katze im Sack kaufen) which means to buy something without verifying that you get what you paid for. The origin is the same as the english term.

  10. sniperskaya says:

    What was the cat doing in the bag anyway? Shouldn’t the cat have looked carefully into the bag before getting in, especially if it could have been hazardous to the cat’s health? After all, whenever health is concerned, a cat scan is recommended!

    • BillyB says:

      my cat can’t resist getting into any bag that it can fit into. also have a cockatiel that loves to get into bags, boxes, cupboards etc. but exclusive of the cat. I also love getting into small spaces, feel safe, warm, even more contented there. So advise to birds etc would be, do a catscan before entering confined spaces. cheers

  11. artlover says:

    ok..its #2 switching the cat for the pig…

    in China, only pig and not chicken is considered real meat…no, they would not usually eat the hardworking cow, plus they are too valuable to eat, but pigs are considered lazy, and not so valuable, so OK to eat, unless you are Buddhist of course…and then you would be a strict vegetarian…

    Is it not interesting how we denigrate the animals that are our food and elevate those that are our pets?

  12. mello-g37 says:

    :roll: its Number 3….there is some horrilbe people Around ……
    Let the CAT out of the bag….comes from when you said number 3 .

    The Word CATSPAW……. A Word nothing to do with CATS !…Catspaw (comics), a fictional member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the Glorithverse
    Catspaw (plant), a small genus of Australian plants in the Bloodwort family Haemodoraceae
    “Catspaw” (TOS episode), an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.

    In the oxford english dictionary CATS-PAW …..A person used as a tool by another.
    Other words with cat in it…..CATWALK…..catsup…(ketchup)….cattery……catkin……catseye……catnap……catty…..cats craddle.

    You marina are just Purrrrfect…….you have stolen my heart I want it back……hehehehee…you know they say….A man’s best friend is a Dog….but HE can not go with out a pussy now and again…. :lol: :wink: oxooxoooxoxoxoxooxox

  13. k2_telecards says:

    Nice looking orator!! Now if there were more teachers with her looks teaching english we could better communicate with each other!!! :smile:

    P.S. What is the origin of the word, “DUFUS”.

  14. biagini2 says:

    Let the cat out of the Bag: I think it’s #1 even though it was no secret what was going to happen when that cat came out of the bag.

  15. mrchex says:

    I Choose 1. the nautical definition, because I am familiar with that kind of cat and it just may be right. Fun choice for a quiz

  16. strine says:

    Hey Marina, thanks for making Linguistics beautiful again…can you discuss words that are their own opposites, ie quantum can mean a great deal (quantum leap) or something very small. How many more in the English language are there?

    Regards from Oz,


    PS you have wonderful semantic weights *cough*.

  17. gramps525 says:

    :mrgreen: I think it’s ancwer # 1. it makes more sence to me.
    PS: your still hot :lol:

  18. warloe says:

    Hey lovely teacher :wink: ,

    Can you help m out with this word?
    i saw this word and almost jumped outta my skin


  19. chatty_ says:

    How did the word ‘shampoo’ came about?

  20. dosbomber says:


    I sent “Let the cat out of the bag” in via email last December.

    It was the email in which I also alerted you to some places on the web which contained your surname.

    I guess you don’t read your emails. :roll:


  21. capman911 says:

    Hi Marina,
    I believe its number one. The rest sound a little to far fetched.


  22. riprap says:


    I have a list of words that I would like you to investigate. I am pretty sure you can have some real fun with these.

    Felch (felcher, felching etc)

    I know most of these are sexual in nature. That is because I am a very sexual person. My wife and I are both deeply sexual and sensual, so these are the only words we could cum up with. (puns intended).
    Oh, there is another one. CUM. Please add that to the list.

    Thank you and we love your site.

    RipRap & Serenity

    P.S. We were married on Halloween in a Cemetery. If you would like some pics of our wedding, LMK.

  23. laneah dutcher says:

    I have alot of requests…


    Happy Camper


    Say cheese!(taking a picture)

    as in playing sick to stay home from school…

    “as drunk as a newt”…
    Now, having never seen a newt,much less a drunk one, I would imagine that they look and act like any other animal… Unless Kermit the frog started peddlin alchol…

  24. huganerd says:

    Hello Marina.

    I would like you to teach me about one of my favorite words. I’d like to be sure I’m using it correctly. The word is…


    Thank you,

  25. jonyboy26 says:

    Hey Marina,

    Once again GREAT video!

    I was wondering where the word deplorable came from and exactly what it means, because today my teacher told me and my friend that our work was deplorable and I said, I wonder what the origin of that word is.

    Thanks so much Marina


  26. captainjack says:

    I love Marina’s little quote of the day.
    “Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?” – Bumper Sticker :mrgreen:

  27. brewbum says:

    Hey, Marina I have a word request. How about the origin of the word Ditto?

  28. geronimo says:

    I was just looking at past lessons and watched Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia which reminded me of my phobia, luposlipaphobia. which, as everyone knows, is the fear of being chased by wolves while wearing only socks on a slippery kitchen floor. Oh I guess I should have just submitted that word rather than give it away. Oh well.

  29. cimska says:

    Marina “stop and smell the roses” that could be a good request. no :?:
    :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :roll:

    • cimska says:

      I am just guessing. i have the idea that you are looking make the right arrangements of the words or phrases that you use on your channel to set the right mood for your audience, So how do i get with your system is my question (putting my request for dopamine up is just one example, if it’s not setting the right mood to make the next video how could i make the adjustments to get with the hotforwords “groove”) Is there some type of “rythme” that i am suppossed to tag my request to?

  30. turtlewax says:

    Hi Marina,
    Many people use the word “ones,” like “those ones over there.”
    It’s always bugged me a little since the word “one” is singularly singular. One should say “those over there.”
    Am I wrong? Has the word “ones” officially entered into the lexicon?

  31. icedteaisgood1234 says:

    wait a second. i just posted the last comment. its spelt “mnemonic” :cry: sorry

  32. icedteaisgood1234 says:

    hi marina :mrgreen: i was hoping you could help me find out the origin of the word mneumonic as in mneumonic device for remembering what a word means. i think that would be interesting. well, thank you. i love your videos!

  33. nyagwaispiritbear says:

    Too funny

  34. turtlewax says:

    I vote for option #1.
    Word request: tow, as in wisp of tow and towhead
    How did this word come to mean so many different things?

    • prospero811 says:

      Isn’t it “toehead?” (I’m really not sure…)

      • turtlewax says:

        Hi prospero!
        No, it’s towhead. the idea being that a towhead’s hair is like tow, another name for the hair on corn. it’s actually very descriptive as it describes color, texture, and being tousled.
        the odd thing is that a towhead is also a name for a sandbar.
        and of course, there are tow trucks.
        Maybe (total SWAG coming) the sandbar meaning is also related to the color of both blondes (sandy blonde hair) and sand.
        Maybe the pull something meaning comes from cavemen pulling women by the hair back to the cave.
        btw, can anyone speak to the veracity of that caveman mating ritual?

      • turtlewax says:

        besides, what would toehead mean? is it what happens when one has stuck one’s foot way too far into one’s mouth? :wink:

      • Bob says:

        Turtlewax asked, “can anyone speak to the veracity of that caveman mating ritual?”

        No way, mate, I’m not that old. :grin:

    • prospero811 says:

      I don’t know – for some reason I thought it was “toe head” and I was too lazy to google it…..

  35. barrowraider says:

    can you find the orign of the word pirate and/or ninja

  36. manuelpyro says:

    Hi Marina Could You Tell me the Origin Of Cliche please? Thank you

    -Manuel Pyro

  37. prospero811 says:

    Interesting “cat” words:

    A “cat cracker” is a chemical reactor for converting oils with high boiling points into fuels with lower boiling points in the presence of a catalyst.

    If a boat is “cat built” it has a bluff bow and straight stern without a figurehead.

    There is a birth defect called “cat cry syndrome” where a chromosomal defect causes a baby to cry like the meowing of a cat, among other things.

    “cat fever”:is a respiratory infection with a fever (panleukopenia).

    To ‘cat foot” is to move in a stealthy manner.

    And lastly — a request….. Marina, would you wear a “cat suit” in your next video? :grin:

  38. prospero811 says:

    Odd meanings of “cat”:

    I never new that “cat” was a British slang word for “vomit.”

    To “bell the cat” means to attempt something formidable, but to “cat around” means to spend one’s time aimlessly.

    A “cat” is a double tripod having six legs but resting on only three no matter how it is set down, usually used before or over a fire, but it’s also a type of shelter used in medieval warfare.

    A “cat” is a slang reference for a man, or any devotee of jazz.

    • prospero811 says:

      err… “knew,” that is…

    • Bob says:

      I never knew that cat was Brit. slang for vomit either and I am a Brit though I’ve spent long periods in the far east and Scandinavia.
      The circles I move in have some rather more picturesque phrases for it like Tiger Tiger, Technicolor Smile, and Pavement (sidewalk) Pizza.

      What is the point of having six legs if you’re only using three of them?
      That means that you have three legs in the air; is that the same as three sheets to the wind?

      I really hope Marina is working hard on a new word or phrase cos I’m getting a little tired of Probie Prospero dogging my steps with his catcalls and catty remarks which he is constantly looking up in his dog-eared dictionary. If he carries on at the same rate I’m going to have to hand the dog watch over to the Captain with a request to lash him to a catamaran until his catawauling subsides. (No offence, Eric)

      • prospero811 says:

        Well, Bob – you are a bit dogged with your doggerel writing. You roused me from my cat sleep, during which I was catatonic. Don’t turn this cat and dog competition into a dogfight, please!


  39. huisfroiw says:

    Hi Marina

    Could you tell me the origin of the word “Mafia”???

    I looked for the origin. But I am not as good as you :cry:

    Thank you

  40. chessmarcosz says:

    Hello Marina! i am Marcos, a new student. I am from Bariloche, Argentina (I hope you have heard about my city). I think the correct answer is number 2, because here in Argentina (sapnish language) we use a similar prhase “gato por liebre” that means sometihng like “Cat for rabbit”. If you want to by a Rabbit the seller can change it for a cat, and fool you.

    Thank for your lessons.


  41. xot says:

    Hi Marina. I would like to know the origin of the phrase “The Lion’s Share”.

    Thanks. You are epic.

  42. fishymack says:

    The correct answer is number 2, scamming people who thought they were buying a piglet. I believe this dates back hundreds of years from the Middle East, where pigs weren’t Kosher.

  43. jon92thebest says:

    id say its theory #1

  44. tricovictus says:

    i think is the number one, cuz manu phrases are taking from the old navy way of life

  45. guardianjosha says:

    I believe that number 3 iss the correct answer but then again i have not always been a good guesser but wll see i a couple of days.


  46. geronimo says:

    I will be very surprised if it is number 2, because cats and pigs of the same size don’t weigh near the same, so who would be fooled? But more importantly it would mean that you (Marina) are still sticking to trend of making all the answers #2. I think it is #1. Capt Jacks theory that the fact that is a tool of punishment dis-counts it, doesn’t hold water because, it was the act of admitting guilt. Of course I could look it up, but that would require effort.

    • geronimo says:

      I should have proof read my comment before sending. The act of admitting guilt is what let the cat out of the bag.

      • captainjack says:

        Interesting concept. True admitting guilt would brings out the cat. There is this little skit the crew did on the Lady Washington that involved gambling with the passengers. The captain would see the crew gambling with the passengers and asked who brought out the dice. The crew would point at any random passenger. The captain said that the passengers did not sign ships articles so they are not bound by the laws of the vessel. So the last person holding the dice ( we where lined up on the rail passing the dice from one sailor to the next) would have to hand it over to the captain. Once placing the dice in his hands he then would order that crew member to be lashed up to the rattlins and to receive 12 strikes of the cat. Of course he could not allow present company to view this punishment and would call out some sort of sail call (order to shift sails). The sailor would then be cut down from the rattlins.
        Admitting Guilt… It could work. But as Marina rules are it has to be documented somewhere and have a date of writing. :smile:

      • geronimo says:

        OK Capt. The earliest known use of this term was in 1760 in the “London Magazine”. But in 1789 “The Times” paper stated “Sir John Aubrey’s passion has got the better of his prudence – he has fairly let the cat out of the bag to scratch the party.”

        It’s the ‘scratch the party’ part of that quote that seems to allude to the cat-o-nine tails. That’s the best documentation I can give you.

  47. kaibanator says:

    Hey Marina!

    Great video as usual :) I have always wondered what the word ‘torque’ means. I see mentions of the word ‘torque’ on tv and papers, but never a mention on what the word means.

    It would be awesome if you were able to find out the origins of ‘torque’ as i know several people also don’t know what it means.

    P.S. I would also love to be your teacher’s pet :)

    Look forward to seeing your next lesson :)

  48. ivan martin says:

    Hi Marina & H4W Team,

    I love your lessons – actually I think I love you (only one more of a thousand, I suppose).

    I’m doing a hard job speaking of you everyone I know here, in Madrid, Spain. I hope, sooner than later, we will be hundreds of thounsands of H4W’s lovers.

    So, I have a “spanish” question:

    French people says “Construire des châteaux en Espagne”
    (to build castles in Spain)

    Spanish people says “Construir castillos en el aire”
    (to build castles in the air)

    What is the English one?

    If you build “castles in Spain” too, What’s the origin of this expression?

    Besr regards

  49. melikadothechacha says:

    OK – this took some analysis and I still don’t know the answer. :shock:

    Parsing the comments was helpful :)

    #1 cat-o-9 tails; sounds viable but is disclaimed by Cpt. Jack.
    – I agree with his analysis (at face value*). Ergo; #1 = NoGo

    *This may be one of those phrases whose meaning has
    changed over a period of time (and it may well be #1!).

    #2 cat/pig swap, pig-in-a-poke: NO WAY a cat is going quietly! :evil:
    So, #2 = NoGo, leaving us with #3; cat escapes from drowning bag.

    Some have argued here that cats were valuable for rodent control.
    True, but not so valuable in large population numbers. :cry:

    My guess, only a guess, would be #3. :idea:

    ’nuff said

  50. trgoblin says:

    Even though theory number 2 is the correct answer, since you made me teacher’s pet…. my wife thinks that theory number 1 is more appropriate for me… :mrgreen: and she’d also like to have me neutered! :sad:

    • BillyB says:

      Congratulations, care to join me, digg it?

    • captainjack says:

      Congrats there trgoblin on becoming pet of the day!

    • BillyB says:

      l’m still tying to figure out the digg thingys’ purpose. I’m old & like figuring things out, but if I knew how it could help or how to use it right… I’m just a confused old pet but there is hope for old pets. Marina’s animals (and I love how she says “animals”) keep popping up from time to time so I prowl, I mean soldier on. Cheers

      • trgoblin says:

        Digg is a “news” oriented social network that lets you and I give “content” a thumbs up or down. Very much like YouTube, as content gets more popular it moves into the front sections where more users see it. The key difference, is that Digg tends to deal more with news items.

        What makes Digg interesting, is that thousands of bloggers from around the world, use content from Digg, so if they see it and like it, they will post it on their blogs, creating links and traffic back to the original poster’s page. Social Media and Search Marketers refer to this as “Link Baiting”.

        With a well developed “friend” network on Digg, you can help your news items go “viral”.

      • wordlover says:

        I use digg for humor! And occasional stunning photos of things blowing up, e.g., nanowires…

    • BillyB says:

      I’m just starting to digg., Another question. does HFW make $$$ if one were to click on the add links that I try so desparately to avoid? Or does something have to be purchased there before Marina can have a positive cash flow. After al business is business & I gottsa go to work. Later :smile:

  51. hutchiee says:

    The number two answer would be the answer that is true.

  52. weeder14 says:

    Love these gues the word games even though I can’t seem to get them right. Anyway, my guess for this one is Number 3. It is sad, but it makes the most sense to me.

  53. canyagrabmiaz says:

    I would like for you to profile the etymology of the word hypermammiferous (meaning having large breasts :mrgreen: )

  54. mistress9nine says:

    No idea, but the 2nd one sounds really false and the 3rd would be too easy so my pick is no1

  55. swedehunter says:

    Hello my dear teacher!

    I´m a bit confused, because the meaning of the frase. To me it´s more like letting out your secret that you think is cool to let people konw about and it turns out you let out more than you could handle.
    Have you ever actually try to do that, letting a cat out of a bag..??? In that case you see that is exactly what happens, it will be hrad to handle!!!
    Of the three theories you have my guess (meaning I don´t really know) is the first one with cat o´nine tales…

    A word request after that
    Atheist – is that really someone who doesn´t believe in a God or is it someone who doesn´t believe in the God that your are “supposed to” believe in in your society? I heard somewhere that word origin from the town of Athen in Greece??

    from your devoted student / Swedehunter

  56. captainjack says:

    Oh boy a Nautical phrase :mrgreen: Or is it?

    I seen HFW video just as I was walking out the door to teach my evening class. I’ve been eager all evening to respond to this quiz. I rushed home, went shopping, and ate dinner (12 am dinner, yea I have weird hours but for good reason). :neutral:

    Ok I don’t have a clue about #2 or #3. Of what I know of #1 I would not choose it. ooohhh. Captain Jack not picking #1? :twisted: Yes! Because Marina defined Letting the cat out of the bag is letting a secret out. So bringing out the cat of nine tail was not about secrets. It was a tool for punishment.

    There was use of Cats (Multi-strand whips) back in Egyptian times. People believe that this whip was called a cat because of the cat like scratch left behind when used on a slaves back. Cats where used in British Navy for punishment. The first written use of a cat was back in 1695 or 1659 or was it 1665 (damn dyslexia!), and it just a mentioning in a book about love. I should research it and list it in my references. But whats weird is the phrase no room to swing a cat dates back even earlier. I think use of the cat in the British Navy was used long before it was documented. Many earlier documents (ships logs) were lost at sea. Cats were stored in bags and locked up.
    Have you heard the song “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” There is this verse that goes “Give him a taste of the captains daughter” Sound like fun hu? Well Captain’s daughter is also referred to cat of nine tails. You don’t like that song anymore now do you? :mrgreen:

    Ok enough of that. So now I have to pick one of the other two choices. The pig story sound good. I have personal experience with #3 that I don’t care to go into. Sad childhood. :cry:
    Im going cross my fingers and go with #2.

    __(\__~~ …Running from the storm..

  57. nlsmafia2008 says:

    Cat out of the bag?? I will have to guess that theory number 1 is the correct choice.

  58. bobsully says:

    I think it is number 3, but number 1 sounds plausible.

  59. m.philos says:

    Dear Teacher

    vote for #2
    ( but cheated on that one : by parsing the ‘comments below’,
    #2 became an evidence )

    Kudos for the micro-dramaturgy of your clips –
    if I may give my preference : I really love your ‘Monty Python’ side…
    oh, and also, keep feeding us with blunders : your magnetic field of seduction maximizes when you are natural/ laughing at yourself

    Your respectful student.

    • melikadothechacha says:

      Marina must have production software with macros/presets that allow her to whip :twisted: out her show extremely fast w/o a lot of post work to do.Don’t know if she wrote it or had help, but it works! :idea:

  60. muggins says:

    I vote for #4. Once you let the cat out of the bag, you can’t ever hope of putting the cat into the bag again. Thus, if you tell a secret, you can’t untell it. My gramma used to volunteer my pop, when he was a kid, to
    take the neighbor’s kitten’s down to the river in a guinea sack weighted down with rocks and drown ‘em. After a while he wised up and refused
    to do it. “Let ‘em drown their own cats.”

  61. oogalieboogalieboo says:

    The cat was a secret weapon. “letting the cat out of the bag” means to reveal a surprise or a secret, like in medieval times when mice would get in your house around autumn so they would’nt freez during the winter, they would then go to market and buy cats, and when they got home they would let the cat(s) out of the bag and it would be a big surprise for the mice??? lol

  62. oogalieboogalieboo says:


    Here’s a couple. “That’s SWELL”, and, “RASCALS”

    Everytime I hear that it reminds me of the Little Rascals, or an old 1940s gangster movie, like with James Cagney… “Thanks MA, that’s just swell, see. Look, coppers… you ain’t taking me alive, see! NYahhh, see! NyAHHH!!!! lol

    Anyway, “That’s swell!” and “Rascal(s)”


  63. bcbird says:

    I’ve always loved the longest word in the english dictionary: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, for several reasons. One, I learned it when I was young and kids like stupid things. Two, I could spell it and define it (A disease you get when you breathe in ultra-microscopic particles of sand while digging through volcanic rock).

    So, I would love if you would feature it.


    • lividemerald says:

      This word is commonly requested not because it’s such a long word but because it is used so extensively due to our obsession with digging through volcanic rock at all hours of day or night. The word is especially used by pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosisphobes who suffer acute pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosisphobia. I think there is also a special word for the randomly constructed sand castles that appear in the affected pulmonary tissues…

  64. lividemerald says:

    If I choose the wrong answer, it will be a cat-astrophe!

  65. stokesjrj1 says:

    I say it’s #2

  66. mrkabdrivr says:

    Because of how we use the expression, I think the only fitting explanation would be number two, the pig story. It’s the only once about a deception of some sort being uncovered, and that is why we use the phrase, no?
    It’s not about punishement as in answer #1, and I find answer #3 has no relevance watsoever.
    So, definitely #2…
    Cheers! :smile:
    (BTW: I’m a lazy slob! This is a copy/paste of the post I did on YTB… Shame on me!)

  67. bad doggie says:

    Dear HotForWords Teacher Miss Marina,
    After deducing that when a pig is poke while in a bag will squeal like a pig and a cat can not squeal like a pig, #2 can not be the answer.
    Knowing a little about felines, who are very valuable creatures for keeping down the vermin population such as rats, mice, moles, voles, etc. #3 should also be a wrong choice.
    This leaves me to choose #1 as the correct reply to your question.
    I’d rather suffer the ‘Cat-O-Nine Tails’ rather than to be ‘Keel Hauled’ :!:

  68. Мастер says:

    Здравствуйте Марина,

    Just discovered your website and show the other day. Love it, I can understand why it is so popular!

    I would be interested in hearing the origins of the word “usury” :grin:



  69. nbeltran says:

    :grin: :grin: :grin: :grin:

    I think it would be Theory #2

    I would love to hear the origin of the phrase: “Cover your Six?”

    which is a cool military term?

    or even the origin of the phrase “Top Gun”

    or also the word origin of “newbie ?”




    • mrkabdrivr says:

      “Cover your six” means “Watch your behinds”. As in six o’clock; Noon being in front of you, 9 at your left, 3 at your right.

      Used by combat pilots to indicate to a friendly the presence of an ennemy coming down on him from behind. Extended to ground troops for similar use.


      • nbeltran says:

        Thanks buddy;

        I was directing the Question to the Philology Expert;
        I already knew what they meant but wanted to hear
        Marina’s PHD speak on it to get Clarity and share
        new phrases with everyone.

        thanks though.

        Ooooh Rahh!


  70. enigmaticzero says:

    I’ll take the first option.

  71. labbatt78 says:

    I don’t have much to say but I’ll go with #3. That is all.

  72. pairadots says:

    I vote for #1 and I would like to request the word “pickle”.

  73. russianboy says:

    marina, what is the origin of the word “book”?, i wonder

  74. navytundra says:

    How about the phrase when someone has “the devil to pay”? A hint is in my user name. Also, two of the words in the phrase come from earlier forms of those words. So, in reality, it goes further back than what you find with a google search. Can you handle it? Thanks.

  75. wordlover says:

    I’ll go with number two.

    No, not that number two! :razz:

  76. caktonias says:

    Well I know of the cat-of-nine-tails as some call it, however from what I understand that isn’t really a punishment for simple crimes on a ship as they usually have woven bits of glass in them which are meant to do serious damage.. so no to the first I think..

    As for the cats actually being in the bag, well that just seems too easy. And besides, drowning litters of kittens used to be a common way to keep the population of feral cats down, not that I approve in any way but I hardly see them making a saying out of it.

    And so I will go with the most wacky answer as that seems to be the best choice when it comes to the “guess the word origin game”, and I will say it was a piglet that used to be kept in a sac, but shady dealers would switch them for cats to make a profit.

  77. saratoga says:

    It’s number one.

    Love your posts.


  78. vixxin says:

    last one
    the other two sound fake

  79. jesterzusmc says:

    Number two.
    Sad but true.

  80. Warren says:

    I’ve heard the pig story a long time ago so maybe it’s the correct one.

  81. Hitman says:

    I Think is #3

    Why I am not the teacher pet? I am one of your first subscriber and you know that is an advantage knowing a hitman; because a hitman on the other side is nor really good (for you and for your family) :evil:

  82. ilovehotforwords4sure says:

    Hi Marina!
    The cats out of the bag on you!
    You are fun and can be a real “Sweetheart”
    Kisses for you!
    You were “on”, but still like something is bothering you?
    Are you ok?

  83. hotforteacher69ume says:




  84. beantownjim says:


  85. beantownjim says:

    to let the cat out of the bag means to rat someone out or imform someone a secret

  86. augie says:

    huh you stomped me again so im retired navy im going with #1 as always rated 10 love and kisses my sweet teacher

  87. rampgunner says:

    Hi Marina,

    New to the whole podcast thing, saw you on O’Reilly and decided to check out your site. Have been enjoying your lessons and hope you will consider this word for a future lesson:

    Toeheaded- reference to a blonde haired child.

    Hope you use this one.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  88. fletcher says:

    Please provide the etymology of the word esuriant. Monty Python resurecetd this word in their famous “Cheese Shop” skit. It also followed the use of the word ‘peckish’ to describe hunger. I would love to know the origins of esuriant before I become well… peckish!. Skit script here… http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/cheese.htm. Thanks to you, my dearest teacher!

  89. toysjoe says:

    Well, I haven’t see the lesson yet, downloading as I type this message.

    However, I remember reading that this saying came from England (?) where pig farmers used to sell their pigs, but some farmers would cheat and put a cat in the sack instead of selling actual pigs. So letting the cat out of the bag was kind of letting a secret out, as is its meaning today.

    I hope that was one of the options, or something similar.

  90. coopsf1 says:

    Hey Marina, I was wondering if u can give me the meaning of the word RUTHLESS

    Thank You & Take Care,


    • toysjoe says:

      What the heck is a ruth anyway? If I don’t have it that makes me cold-hearted?

      :mrgreen: HAHA :mrgreen:

      • turtlewax says:

        Okay, if ruth comes from 13th century Middle English ‘to rue,’ why is one of the books of the Old Testament called the Book of Ruth with themes that seem to define ‘ruth.’ I’m no scholar, especially no theologian, but I assume the Hebrew Ruth predates the 13th century.
        Is it merely a coincidence that ruth and Ruth map so closely to one another?
        Marina, care to weigh in on the convergence of these different origins?

  91. enigma277 says:


    Hi. I’d like to request; CHIVALRY

    YOU’re the best teacher I’ve ever had!


  92. runawayscott says:

    It’s number 2, I’ve readit somewhere before.

  93. xxluckybrandxx says:

    PLEASE do “wenus” it is a very funny and interesting word and there is a lot of confusion about it.

    thanks :!:

    love ur videos! :smile:

  94. jacread says:

    :twisted: what the easter egg say to the boiling water :twisted:
    :twisted: “going to be a while before i get hard, ,just got laid yesterday” :twisted:

    (//_^) (\___/)
    k amphibious or gekko either word works

  95. davesanrn says:

    Hello my dear teacher. I enjoyed your recent lesson on “SNAFU.” There are quite a few military acronyms. There is one I have used for 25 years to get me through difficult times. (Although I often have to just keep it in my head, not say it!)

    It is FIDO, which is Fuck it, Drive On!. Basically means don’t lie around and whine about a problem, just keep going and the problem will either be solved or you’ll leave it behind.

    As a side note, I when I was in Bosnia I did some joint patrols with Russian soldiers, which I enjoyed a lot. They were great guys and basically it showed us that soldiers are soldiers. I’d be interested in knowing some of their sayings and acronyms, translated into English, and what they mean. Thanks, I am your attentive student!!!

  96. wordnerd says:

    Marina, I am so excited that I found your channel. Etemology is kind of a hobby of mine. I read the dictionary for fun and all my friends make fun of me. My favorite word ever is defenestrated. It is my favorite because I find it incredibly funny that there is a word for throwing someone or something out of a window. Can you tell me the origion of this word as I have never been able to find it? I love, love, love your videos! It is cool to see a woman who is hot and smart. You give chicks a good name! Thanks for all you do, wordnerd

  97. wlj067 says:

    Theory number 2 — it is also related to buying “a pig in a poke” — “poke” being another word for “bag.”

    • tryant says:

      Isn’t there a term “poke salad” too? What is that exactly? Salad in a bag?
      MARINAAAAAA!! :grin: we need some help here!

      What was that song that referred to “Poke Salad Annie”?


      • wlj067 says:


        “Poke salad” is a Southern dish, made from poke weed (also called inkberry), which grows wild and is considered mildly toxic to mammals (although it is popular with birds). It was sometimes gathered and eaten (apparently in small doses) by those who couldn’t afford to buy salad greens, so Poke Salad Annie would probably have been a girl from a poor family, living on the wrong side of town. In this case, it has nothing to do with poke as a bag.

      • tryant says:

        Hey,TY for the info man.

        I also remember now the song said “and carried it home in a tote sack” or something like that. After all the talk of “poke” being a sack or bag it was an easy leap to think that poke salad might be named for what it was carried in. Oh well,it’s a good tune.


  98. tayljim says:

    In the days of sailing ships when the Capt. or other officer would tell a
    seaman something in secret the threat of the “cat” would normally keep him quiet, therefore when he would not reveal the secret to
    his mess mates it was said “the cats got your tongue” if he did tell then indeed the “cat ‘s out of the bag” therfore the tiein of revealing
    of a secret.. as for answer #2 has anyone tried to keep a cat quite in
    a bag?

  99. ellio says:

    Keeping with the cat theme, what is the origin of the phrase “the cat’s pyjamas?”

  100. crymsonglory says:

    Marina, how about the origin of the phrase “skeletons in the closet.”

    Thank you! :wink: :smile:

  101. murph5456 says:

    Please tell us the origin of the word sincere.


  102. firebirdh says:

    I have a word which I know of three meanings.
    The droppings of an animal used by hunters looking for game.
    to chase away someone or animal.
    To sing made up words as in jazz. Sinatra used to scat, Scoobie doobie doo.
    were did these meanings come from?
    tom D

    • Bob says:

      “To do is to be.”

      “To be is to do.”
      –Rene Descartes

      –Frank Sinatra.

      I don’t know if the first two “quotes” have been correctly ascribed (no doubt someone will be able to correct them), but who cares?
      As someone else said, “What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?”

      “The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.”
      –William Somerset Maugham

  103. nxtlvlben says:

    Word request :mrgreen:

    “Brass Tax” why is this saying used to refer to someones “bottom line” in a negotiation or when all the cats are out of the bag.LOL. Thx B.

  104. secwildcat says:

    hey i was wondering where the word trix comes from because this morning i was eating some trix :grin: and kept thinking about the word and I couldnt get it out of my head :sad:

  105. ragabashmoon says:

    I have to say I think #3 is the one, parents can be so cruel.

  106. nighteye says:

    I’m going with option 3, poor cats… :sad:

    Anyway, I’m also wondering at the word “vowel”. In Dutch, consonant translates to “medeklinker” and vowel translates to “klinker” – which, translated back to english literally, would be “sonant”. I think consonant comes originally from co-sonant. So why is “vowel” used instead, nowadays?

  107. laneah dutcher says:

    Marina, remember me?

    Why in the world is it that when people want you to smile for the camera, they say, “say cheese”?
    anyways….yup thats my request…buh bye

  108. guitarplayer7 says:

    Marina, my mom is always saying to stop riling up my brother. Where did that come from? thanks and keep doing your shows!!!!! :smile:

  109. prospero811 says:

    I might not have a cat in hell’s chance of being right, but my guess is that it had to do with the cat-o-nine-tails. Option number 1.

    I don’t want to play cat and mouse, or fight like cats and dogs, because it’s raining cats and dogs. But, it’s kind of crowded in here though, there isn’t enough room to swing a scaredy-Cheshire fat-cat among the pigeons, (who looks like something the cat dragged in) that got the cream (and your tongue). Well, let’s see which way the cat jumps, anyway, because when the cat’s away, the mice will play and there’s more than one way to skin a cat (and curiosity is going to kill the cat anyway)..

    Come on, Marina, I’m anxious as a cat on a hot tin roof, waiting for you to tell me I’m the cat’s whiskers!


    Love you’re videos, as always. And, you look smashing. I love the multiple outfits per video. Keep them coming!

    • prospero811 says:

      Have I set the record for the largest mixed metaphor ever?

      Ha! :lol:

    • captainjack says:

      Im glad I’m not her husband. Can you imagine the dough I would have invested in her wardrobe? I would have sold the yacht and I would end up living in a canoe. Not to say thats bad, at least I’m still on the water. :mrgreen:

      • prospero811 says:

        I don’t want to “bell the cat” here or anything, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that you’d make the trade.

      • turtlewax says:

        You’d think someone with that many outfits and costume changes used to walk the catwalk.

      • captainjack says:

        Yea Prospero, you did go out on that limb hu? Stupid mouse thinking he can bell a cat.

        Young grasshopper. I would never trade. A true sailor worth his salt that runs threw his veins would never think of such a thoughts.
        Never ever give a pretty girl your slush fund/credit card. Make the lady get her own! :mrgreen: I’ve been around the block on this one buddy. In fact I’ve been around the world. This homeboy doesn’t play that game. Oh wait a minute… back peddling. I guess I do pay a lady for nice clothes. You know sailors calls a ship a “She”.? Well Im always spending money on my sailboat to make her look pretty. I guess in a way your right. I do spend money on my girl. But I only buy her one outfit and thats it. I get here a few accessories and thats it. Done! Any questions?

      • BillyB says:

        strange statement? think about it… Outfits are business @ HFW corp. (Tax deductable) & can be sold for a pofit or donated according to managements decision making processes. Also fits very nicely on sis’ so the one wardrobe is fit for two…or four, however you do the math.

      • Bob says:

        A Sailing Boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by wood, steel, aluminium or fibreglass, into which the owner pours a never ending stream of money.

        I once met a man who told me that his motto was, “If it floats, flies or fucks, rent it, don’t buy it.”

        Two out of three ain’t bad. :wink:

      • stokesjrj1 says:

        I believe she was a model for a time. You will just have too ask her.

      • captainjack says:

        Yea Bob, I hear you there! Two out of three ain’t to bad.

        Whats your point Stokesjrj?

        BillyB!!!! Yea, Your so right. The old saying is the best tax shelter is having your own business. No matter what it is you can right off $$$ bucks. One must do to keep from paying more than what the law requires us to pay. Many Americans pay more than their share of taxes. Thats because we don’t know the tax laws like the back of our hands. Its a sad truth. But Im kind of getting off the topic. Sorry :sad:
        What where we talking about again? Oh the wardrobe. Yea. Is just amazing what she has. :mrgreen:

        • John says:

          turtlewax says:
          April 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm
          You’d think someone with that many outfits and costume changes used to walk the catwalk.

          Whats your point Stokesjrj?

          I believe she was a model for a time. You will just have too ask her.

          Fairly self explanatory

  110. locked4blue says:

    :roll: i wonder the meanings of the names :salome and karamazov if really they are meaningfull
    actually im sure that u know the novel karamazov brothers, and im wondering the meaning of name.
    and ive chosen salome as second request cuz i think u seem to be 21th centurys “Lou Salome” (another russian femme fatale who had interesting life)
    ty :cool:

  111. zgicc says:

    Floccinaucinihilipilification . Maybe you can unravel the story behind this word?

  112. hotfornumbers says:

    Hi Marina:

    ¡WOW!, congratulations for the video, your hard work, success and last achievements.

    I was wandering if you would be willing to spend one video or a few extra seconds in a video to explain the etymology of the name:


    sometimes also spelled as chikiliquatre, chiquilicuatre and similar combinations.
    This character appeared in a famous comic TV show and is now going to participate in Europe’s Eurovision-2008 contest.

    You can find more info in


    (La Sexta is the same media group that wrote an article about you on april 23rd)

    The hints are that chiki comes from chiquito (diminutive of chico, “small”,I don’t know whether the origin is latin or basque) and “cuatre” means “four” in catalan. Basque girls often called their mates: txiki.
    It may come from “Chiquito de la calzada” an older comic showman in Spain

    I think it would be great for both of you. What do you say? Do you dare?

    • are you spanish hotfornumbers???

      i think ”chikilicuatre” has no sense in english

      and i think chiki really comes from you know what … :cool:

      and he spoke last week about a … women’s dictionary :?:
      a different point of view …

      you should watch it Marina, but maybe could barely uunderstand cause he is spanish
      it is not full but … link …


      jaja deLgAno

      a question about eurovision …

      does russia participates ?? i don´t really know,
      some of its ex-republics do but …

      in credibly blue :roll:

    • melikadothechacha says:

      Didn’t she run for public office a few years back?

  113. harveycasual says:

    Hi Marina,

    I guess number two.

    How about this request “googley-eyes or googley-eyed” – hmmm?

    Cheers! :cool:

  114. panchoblanco says:

    What is the origin of the term “Echo Boomer” used to describe young people who are using the latest communication technologies?

  115. panchoblanco says:

    Definitely #2.. related to “Don’t buy a pig in a poke”, which is the same transaction from the viewpoint of the buyer.

  116. phil14 says:

    I have heard that the word Sabotage has a very interesting story, and I would like to know the complete background of the word. Thanks for your interesting website. Intelligence IS sexy!

  117. donfelipegonzales says:

    Dear teacher
    I hope the answer fot this one is coming soon, because I haven’t the slightest idea and I didn’t find anything on the internet. I read with attention the proposed answers, but they lack arguments! Hey guys, is there some one with an argumented theory?
    Don Felipe

  118. okay4now says:

    DisIrregardless (sorry) it’s a waste of a good bag–#1 1/2<—-fudging.

  119. roadrunrnch says:


  120. in credibly blue :roll:
    i’ve found it !
    it is theory #2 !
    it was there, in the OED

    To let the cat out of the bag is to reveal a secret. But where does the phrase come from? What is the cat doing in the bag and what has this to do with secrets?

    The phrase is a reference to an old scam in which a cat would be surreptitiously substituted for a suckling pig that had just been purchased at market. The cat would be placed in the bag in the hopes that the customer would not look into it until they were some distance away.

    The phrase dates to at least 1760, although the scam itself is much older, dating to the 16th century at least. From London Magazine of 1760:

    We could have wished that the author…had not let the cat out of the bag.

    Also related is the phrase to buy a pig in a poke, which is a reference to the same scam (a poke is a bag or sack). And there is a similar phrase in French, vider le sac, literally meaning to empty the sack and used to mean to tell the whole story or finish the tale.

    It’s commonly asserted that let the cat out of the bag refers to the cat o’ nine-tails used on board ships as form of punishment. The whip would be kept in a special bag to protect it from the sea air and to let the cat out of the bag was to confess a crime worthy of flogging. A neat tale, except there is absolutely no evidence to connect the phrase with a nautical origin.

    and it is true that …

    #1 cat o’ nine tails has not a secret connotation

    #3 you’ve got a great inventive, Marina

    can I be your pet?

    but please dont whip me

    • donfelipegonzales says:

      Dear fellow student
      Very interesting theory! I wait the answer to see if your argumented and very precise theory is true. I must correct something. In french we don’t say “vider le sac” but “vider son sac”. Which means that to say every thing you hide to someone. It is often used when you are angry at someone, and not as something said by mistake.
      Nonetheless, congratulations for your theory!
      Read you soon!
      Don Felipe

      • lividemerald says:

        Okay, but which sac? One’s sac à dos? sac à main? sac de couchage? sac herniaire? sac embryonnaire? sac à patates?

      • donfelipegonzales says:

        Dear fellow student
        Hé, hé, hé, hé, hé, excellent, l’arroseur arrosé, well I don’t know if you ‘re french or not but I think that the bag (le sac) we are writing about is not a common bag. It must surely refer to the stomach. When you are angry, stressed, you feel stomach-ached (if I may!). So where the anglo-saxon stock says: “a pain in the ass”, we in France feel the pain in our stomachs.
        A different point of view.
        A fellow student just trying to make the quest for knowledge continue
        Don Felipe

  121. aleksandar says:

    #2 is the correct answer

  122. petmefish says:

    #2 sounds really good

  123. cimska says:

    Request for the origin of the word Dopamine

  124. Bob says:

    I expect Captain Jack will argue with me on this in favour of theory #1, but I believe that #2 is the correct answer because it also gives rise to the expression “Never buy a pig in a poke”.
    Poke is another word for a bag and buying a pig without opening the poke and examining the goods is leaving oneself open to being deceived.
    :arrow: Caveat emptor!

    • captainjack says:

      Hi Bob, Uh no I won’t. In fact im 100% positive its not #1. Read my earlier post. I love nautical phrases. Also many phrases originate from nautical times. But in this case in the use of the phrase “to let out a secret” I have to say nope. Even though the Cat of 9 tails where kept in a bag. I worked on the tall ship Lady Washington. It was an educational ship and a floating museum of sorts. We tried our best to get accurate information on how life was like on a tall ship. I even did a skit where the cat was going to be used on me as I was lashed to the “rattlin’s”. One day they left me there tied to the rattlin’s for about half hour. Pay back was hell for the captain :twisted:

  125. in credibly blue :roll:

    i’ll say second #2 because it’s the one which is not said yet

    i think i’m wrong, but i might be lucky

  126. alidor says:

    Hi, great video. Please could you tell me the origin of the word yo-yo.
    Yes, the small toy with a cord. thank you

  127. matalexwolf says:

    Elysian Marina……

    Cracking video again…..

    hhhmmm… thinking number one sounds the best answer – the other answers just don’t do it for me…..so terribly naughty :!:

    Q for you… do you know what ‘Ken’ has to do with knowledge? Thesaurus lists his name but I have never heard of this Ken, regarding knowledge before!


  128. tayljim says:

    #1 is correct

    the cat of nine tails is also referred to in the
    phase “No room to swing a cat”

  129. flowage00 says:

    Definately #3. I just wish I were wittier about the specifics although you are correct it was/is still NOT a nice thing to do.

    Love, Me.

  130. matalexwolf says:

    :cool: YAY – first at last….sweet

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Not your typical philologist! Putting the LOL in PhiLOLogy :-)