The term curiosity killed the cat is an expression that’s used as a warning for anyone who is acting excessively curious, as their prying behavior may lead them to harm.
Example: If you go snooping all over the place, you might spoil the surprise. It’s said that curiosity killed the cat, so stop poking your head around.
Synonyms / Similar Phrases:
1. Sticking one’s nose into other people’s business
The Origin Of Curiosity Killed The Cat
The saying curiosity killed the cat highlights the curious aspect of a cat’s personality. These creatures have a desire to learn about the new things they see. The curiosity shown by cats likely does not escape the notice of their owners. Yes, those who’ve owned a cat before have firsthand experience on how curious they can truly be.
Cats love investigating newly introduced things in their environment. For example, if you bring home a new piece of furniture and put it in the living room, the cat’s curiosity will quickly set in once they see it. First, they’ll cautiously approach the furniture, give it a smell, and once they feel comfortable enough, they will probably climb on it. Soon after, your curious cat will probably make that piece of furniture its new napping spot.
As the expression goes, curiosity killed the cat. However, how can a cat’s desire to learn about things be deadly? It’s because a cat’s curiosity can lead them to dangerous situations that results in them being killed. Or at least, it can get them into trouble.
Anyway, there is an older form of this expression that goes: “Care killed the cat.” In this case, the word “care” seems to mean “worry” or “sorrow.” This form of the expression goes back to at least the 16th century. A few playwrights use it during that time. For example, an English playwright named Ben Jonson used it in a play called Every Man in His Humour, 1598. Another playwright, William Shakespeare, used the expression in the play Much Ado About Nothing, written in or around 1599:
“What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.“
The modern phrase curiosity killed the cat first appears in print in the book Proverbs and Family Mottoes, 1891, by James Allan Mair. This is the earliest I could find expression, and it’s listed as a proverb on one of the pages:
“Curiosity killed the cat.“
See Also: Cat and dog sayings
Example Sentences For ‘Curiosity Killed The Cat’
- Josh and Jennifer have been acting strange around each other lately, so I asking around to see what was going on between them. However, a friend told me that curiosity killed the cat and I should just leave it alone.
- I don’t know what he is up to, but curiosity killed the cat, so I’ll leave him alone.
Tip: Want to see more idioms like this one? Well, you can! We have a full list of old sayings in English that you can check out at any time. They are separated into categories too, like animals, food, and sports.