Curiosity Killed The Cat

Meanings of “Curiosity Killed The Cat”

The phrasecuriosity killed the cat’ means curiosity and trying to go to an unknown place can lead to risky, or dangerous situations. In other words, if a person becomes inquisitive about everything, he or she could find themselves caught in unfortunate situations.

Origin of “Curiosity Killed The Cat”

The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” seems to have originated as “care killed the cat” from Every Man in His Humor, a popular play by Ben Jonson, published in 1598. In the play, the phrase goes thus; “Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care’ll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman.”

However, it is not the standard version used these days. It was later changed to “curiosity killed the cat” by a newspaper, The Galveston Daily News, in its publication of 1898. Since then, the phrase has been used in the same version and almost the same meanings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

 Curiosity Killed The Cat Poem by Jon M. Nelson

They say Curiosity killed the cat,
Well there is a story behind that.
It’s not the reason that you may think,
When you hear it, your heart will sink.

The cat was lazy and did nothing all day,
And it always seemed to be in the way.
It would lie in your path and try to trip,
And if you didn’t catch yourself you’d slip.

It would shed its fur balls everywhere,
And the house would be covered in cat hair.
It was a friendly cat, don’t get me wrong,
So I don’t want to make this story too long.

The cat one day was in the neighbor’s yard,
And it must have let down its guard.
I heard barking and growling from outside,
And when I checked, I’d seen my cat had died.

My neighbor left his dog off of the leash,
He didn’t know the furry it would unleash.
It was a tragic end for my cat you see,
My neighbor’s dog’s name was Curiosity.

The poem is an allegorical representation of this phrase in the shape of the story of a cat who is very lazy and sluggish. One day the neighbor’s dog kills him. The poet later finds out that the dog’s name is Curiosity. That is why the poem has been titled with this phrase, showing its metaphorical representation.

Example #2

 Curiosity by Alistair Reid

“may have killed the cat; more
the cat was just unlucky, or else
to see what death was like, having
no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.”

These lines represent the death of a cat to highlight this phrase, saying that it might be the neighbor who killed the cat, or the cat was not so lucky to save himself. It, however, seems there is no cause for the death of the cat. It also seems that there are two plausible versions: one of licking paws and the other of fathering a litter of kittens. Both could be true. The phrase is presented with confusing meanings and good use of ambiguity.

Example #3

 Curiosity Killed the Cat by Little River Band

Right now, right now
You keep this flame I have alight in me
And with this cat, it’s curiosity
That keeps me hanging on night and day
Surprisingly, again I hear you say

Guess what, guess what, curiosity killed the cat
I’m telling you I know where it’s at
Love is everywhere to be found
Open your eyes and look around.”

The first stanza talks about the singer’s affirmation that he has the same fire that the cat has. This is the fire of curiosity that keeps him hanging out day and night. However, he also knows that curiosity killed the cat but he is not as curious as to the cat, for he knows that love is omnipresent, and he does not need to be curious. Therefore, it is a direct meaning of the phrase to show that the speaker knows it.

Example #4

Curiosity Killed the Cat by Sierra Harimann

This novel by Sierra Harimann presents the story of a girl, Hannah, who moves into a new house with her father and other siblings. The house is located near a graveyard where she finds a cat. But, despite her incredulous nature, she finds the cat of her stepsister, Madison, missing, which later bothers her at night. Despite knowing this phrase, Hannah dares not to kill that cat, for, after all, it belongs to her sister. The phrase is used as a metaphor with a direct meaning.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Baron was always curious about the on-goings of his neighbor’s life until the neighbor herself came and told her that “curiosity killed the cat.”

Example #2: “With all her inquisitive questions in the class, everyone used to tease Harriet about how curiosity killed the cat.”

Example #3: “Nathan always had his nose in adventures and mysteries. He was always full of doubts and left no stone unturned in unveiling the truth. His mother warned him that curiosity killed the cat.”

Example #4: “Rose learnt it through the hard way that “curiosity killed the cat,” and stopped meddling in other people’s affairs.”

Example #5: “They were two curious siblings and everyone warned them how curiosity killed the cat.”

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