Learn English idioms | Let the cat out of the bag

English idioms are colourful expressions we use that have a special meaning. What does it mean in English to let the cat out of the bag? Watch this video lesson and find out more about English idioms...

Julianna Margulies may have let the cat out of the bag about the final season of The Good Wife...

What are your favourite English idioms? Tell us in the comments below...

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

This is a funny expression and it's a very old one as well. If you let the cat out of the bag it means you tell a secret. So if someone tells you a secret and they tell you not to tell anyone else but you let the cat out of the bag that means you tell that secret to everybody else. The cat is out of the bag. It means you couldn't keep a secret and now everybody knows. So you could say, "I told my friend that I was getting married, but I told him to keep it a secret. But he told everybody else and now the cat is out of the bag!" Everybody knows the secret. Or you could say, "I lost my job and I wanted to keep that a secret. I didn't want to tell other people, but I told my friend and they told everyone else, now the cat is out of the bag! Everybody knows I lost my job.

So it is a funny expression. Where does it come from? This goes back hundreds of years in England when people were selling animals in the market. So if you went to buy an animal, for example, a pig, and you see the pig, you pay for it, the seller puts something in the bag and he gives you a bag and the bag is moving but when the buyer got home and opened the bag he found that the seller didn't put a pig in the bag, he put a cat in the bag! The secret was that the seller fooled the buyer and he didn't give him a pig, so the cat is the secret. So when they opened the bag and let the cat out of the bag, the secret was out! Everybody knew that there was no pig in the bag! So, the cat was out of the bag and that's how we have that expression.

let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag.jpg