let cat out of the bag


a small domesticated carnivore, Felis domestica or F. catus, bred in a number of varieties.
any of several carnivores of the family Felidae, as the lion, tiger, leopard or jaguar, etc.
a person, especially a man.
a devotee of jazz.
a woman given to spiteful or malicious gossip.
the fur of the domestic cat.
a cat-o'-nine-tails.
Chiefly British. the tapering piece of wood used in the game of tipcat.
Chiefly British. the game itself.
a catboat.
a catamaran.
a catfish.
Nautical. a tackle used in hoisting an anchor to the cathead.
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.
Navy Informal. catapult ( def 2 ).
(in medieval warfare) a movable shelter for providing protection when approaching a fortification.
verb (used with object), catted, catting.
to flog with a cat-o'-nine-tails.
Nautical. to hoist (an anchor) and secure to a cathead.
verb (used without object), catted, catting.
British Slang. to vomit.
Verb phrases
cat around, Slang.
to spend one's time aimlessly or idly.
to seek sexual activity indiscriminately; tomcat.
bell the cat, to attempt something formidable or dangerous.
let the cat out of the bag, to divulge a secret, especially inadvertently or carelessly: He let the cat out of the bag, and the surprise party wasn't a surprise after all.

before 900; Middle English cat, catte, Old English catt (masculine), catte (feminine); cognate with Old Frisian, Middle Dutch katte, Old High German kazza, Old Norse kǫttr, Irish cat, Welsh cath (Slavic *kotŭ, Lithuanian katė̃ perhaps < Gmc), Late Latin cattus, catta (first attested in the 4th century, presumably with the introduction of domestic cats); ultimately origin obscure

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World English Dictionary
cat1 (kæt)
1.  Also called: domestic cat a small domesticated feline mammal, Felis catus (or domesticus), having thick soft fur and occurring in many breeds in which the colour of the fur varies greatly: kept as a pet or to catch rats and mice
2.  Also called: big cat any of the larger felines, such as a lion or tiger
3.  any wild feline mammal of the genus Felis, such as the lynx or serval, resembling the domestic catRelated: feline
4.  old-fashioned a woman who gossips maliciously
5.  slang a man; guy
6.  nautical a heavy tackle for hoisting an anchor to the cathead
7.  a short sharp-ended piece of wood used in the game of tipcat
8.  short for catboat
9.  informal short for Caterpillar
10.  short for cat-o'-nine-tails
11.  informal (Irish) a bag of cats a bad-tempered person: she's a real bag of cats this morning
12.  fight like Kilkenny cats to fight until both parties are destroyed
13.  let the cat out of the bag to disclose a secret, often by mistake
14.  like a cat on a hot tin roof, like a cat on hot bricks in an uneasy or agitated state
15.  like cat and dog quarrelling savagely
16.  look like something the cat brought in to appear dishevelled or bedraggled
17.  not a cat in hell's chance no chance at all
18.  not have room to swing a cat to have very little space
19.  play cat and mouse to play with a person or animal in a cruel or teasing way, esp before a final act of cruelty or unkindness
20.  put the cat among the pigeons to introduce some violently disturbing new element
21.  rain cats and dogs to rain very heavily
vb , cats, catting, catted
22.  (tr) to flog with a cat-o'-nine-tails
23.  (tr) nautical to hoist (an anchor) to the cathead
24.  (intr) a slang word for vomit
Related: feline
[Old English catte, from Latin cattus; related to Old Norse köttr, Old High German kazza, Old French chat, Russian kot]

cat2 (kæt)
informal short for catamaran

cat3 (kæt)
1.  a.  short for catalytic converter
 b.  (as modifier): a cat car
2.  short for catalytic : a cat cracker

abbreviation for
1.  computer-aided teaching
2.  computer-assisted trading

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. (c.700), from W.Gmc. (c.400-450), from P.Gmc. *kattuz, from L.L. cattus. The near-universal European word now, it appeared in Europe as L. catta (Martial, c.75 C.E.), Byzantine Gk. katta (c.350) and was in general use on the continent by c. 700, replacing L. feles. Probably ult. Afro-Asiatic (cf.
Nubian kadis, Berber kadiska, both meaning "cat"). Arabic qitt "tomcat" may be from the same source. Cats were domestic in Egypt from c.2000 B.C.E., but not a familiar household animal to classical Greeks and Romans. The nine lives have been proverbial since at least 1560s. Extended to lions, tigers, etc. c.1600. As a term of contempt for a woman, from early 13c. Slang sense of "prostitute" is from at least c.1400. Slang sense of "fellow, guy," is from 1920, originally in U.S. Black Eng.; narrower sense of "jazz enthusiast" is recorded from 1931. Catnap is from 1823; catfish is from c.1620. Cat's-cradle is from 1768. Cat-o'-nine-tails (1690s), probably so called in reference to its "claws," was legal instrument of punishment in British Navy until 1881. Cat's paw (1769, but cat's foot in the same sense, 1597) refers to old folk tale in which the monkey tricks the cat into pawing chestnuts from a fire; the monkey gets the nuts, the cat gets a burnt paw. To rain cats and dogs (c.1652) is probably an extension of cats and dogs as proverbial for "strife, enmity" (1570s). Cat-witted "small-minded, obstinate, and spiteful" (1670s) deserved to survive. For Cat's meow, cat's pajamas, see bee's knees.

1975, medical acronym for computerized axial tomography or something like it.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

CAT abbr.
computerized axial tomography

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. Caterpillar Inc.

  2. clear air turbulence

  3. computerized axial tomography

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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