Cat got your tongue
My daughter tried to research this in school and never found a satisfactory answer. Sounds like it may be something from the middle ages to me. Does anyone really know?
This phrase originated hundreds of years ago in the Middle
East. When people were caught lying, their punishment was
to have their tongues ripped or cut out and fed to the king's
Lewis Joplin II
HAS THE CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? -- "Why don't you speak? Your silence is suspicious. The saying originated in the mid-nineteenth century and was used when addressing a child who refused to answer a parent's questions after some mischief. Often shortened to `cat got your tongue?'..." From the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Another source also says it originated in the 19th century and may be a reference to "'cat-o'-nine-tails,' a whip, the anticipation of which could paralyze a victim into silence. There is also the medicinal cat (or kat), which acts on the heart and could produce temporary silence as a side effect. Or it might simply be that the household cat's habit of staring quietly at owners and birds suggested an analogy with the suddenly silent person." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
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