The Cat’s Pajamas

Meanings of “The Cat’s Pajamas”

The phrase “the cat’s pajamas” is used to indicate or express a highly impressive, admired or exceptionally adorable thing or person.

Origin of “The Cat’s Pajamas”

Although UK English prefers the spelling “pyjamas”, US English uses “pajamas”. Since this phrase “the cat’s pajamas” is first said to have been first used in the 1920s in the New York Circles, US, we go with the US spelling. However, its first written usage is traced in the South Carolina newspaper, The Pageland Journal, published in February 1918, where it is stated as; “Wouldn’t that beat the cat’s pajamas?”

Later, in the 1920s, the phrase was traced in London’s newspaper, The Daily Herald, published in May 1923, where it is stated as; “Oh, you lovers of Rudolph – he is the cat’s eyebrows.” Since then, the phrase has been used by various singers, authors, filmmakers, and poets conveying various shades of meanings.

Examples from Literature

Example #1

Cat’s Pajamas by Linda Winchell

i am the, “Cat’s Pajamas”,
No tail…but just the same,
I prance about the house all puffed up,
And with cat like arrogance in all I claim.

I haven’t any coat of fur,
But my skin has done just fine,
It forms its protection given me,
And has been on my bones for quite sometime.

I purr when stoked lightly,
But don’t go against my grain of coat,
For you wouldn’t want to upset this kitty,
Who can quickly butt like a Billy Goat!

This poem reflects upon the metaphoric representation of the phrase. The speaker calls herself the cat’s pajamas and tries to find out similarities between a cat and her. Although her physical appearance is not like an animal, yet she thinks she resembles a cat in many ways. She catalogs the similarities and seems content with her illustrations. Unlike the cat, she possesses an arrogant attitude, and she can prance about in a puffed house. The cat has got fur over its body, while she has protective skin. Moreover, she also understands emotions as a cat does. Therefore, the phrase shows its metaphorical representation through this poem.

Example #2

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

In this enchanting novel, the author narrates the stories of three different persons. Madeleine Altimari, a 9-year jazz singer, has recently endured the acute pain of her mother’s death. While cloaked in sadness, she fails to imagine that future is going to bring joy for her. After facing severe tragedies in life, she searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas, where she intends to utilize her abilities. Surprisingly, on the same day, her schoolteacher has returned to Philadelphia and is desperately looking forward to meeting her old friends. Similarly, Lorca, a club honor, also faces a huge loss and turns toward the same jazz club at midnight. Thus, these three tormented souls get along to seek endless possibilities of life. The phrase shows its use in different connotations, though, in a somewhat ironic way.

Example #3

The Cat’s Pajamas by Wallace Edwards

The author introduces the readers with his marvelous collection of idioms. The book contains twenty-six idioms, conveying new shades of meanings of the familiar sayings along with a strange painting illustration on each page. Each expression is brilliantly used in sentences with clear implications. To add to the surprise, there is a cat hidden in every painting; some cats are a treat to find, while some demand a closer observation. Thus, the writer has practiced a distinct approach to present old ideas with new illustrations, so that the readers grab the idea immediately. Therefore, the book shows the phrase used as an extended metaphor in the shape of pictorial illustrations.

Example #4

The Cat’s Pajamas by Ray Bradbury

The book, The Cat’s Pajamas, presents an exciting journey of the author’s distinguished six-decade career. The book contains twenty-two stories, conveying various themes and stylistic techniques. The writer has crafted tales that are scary, strange, touching, and humorous. These varied tales are set in both; past and unpredictable future such as a lonely woman takes the last chance to taste love, a newly-wed couple buys, an old house, and a group of alcoholic people gambling away the United States. The book also contains a story poem in which the writer salutes literary heroes including Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, G.B. Shaw, and Charles Dickens. All these stories show the phrase used as a metaphor for the writer’s remarkable and fertile imagination.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Although I have seen many beautiful places in this city, yet the crazy, ruby-studded statue in the center of the city is the cat’s pajamas.”

Example #2: “My brother has used many cars since he joined the new company but his new Peugeot 508 is the cat’s pajamas.”

Example #3: “Most of my friends tried hard to complete the drawing project but Sam’s brilliant effort mesmerized the class. He is really a cat’s pajama, isn’t he?”

Example #4 “The newly appointed manager Luke, tries to get his finger in every pie. He thinks he is the cat’s pajamas.”

Example #5: “Although Oliver knew nothing about the incident, his predictions were almost justified and correct for all the incidents that followed. He is definitely the cat’s pajamas.”