Without letting the cat out of the bag: Carl Pettit loves idioms suggesting the torture of house cats.
When a man or woman wants to communicate something important, idioms are often the linguistic tool employed in the task, which allows the speaker to accurately express a certain idea without having to use a ton of adverbs and adjectives.
Imagine a businessman who says, “I’ve been on pins and needles all day waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I know my boss has an axe to grind with me about the chip I’ve been carrying around on my shoulder all week, and of course I let the cat out of the bag early regarding my plan to fly the coop and get out of Dodge.”
Any native speaker of English, or someone well versed in the language, would understand the message this man is trying to convey. He’s nervous because his boss is mad at him because he has a bad attitude and it’s evident that he wants to leave his job. For those poor souls still working on English as a second language, the meaning would probably be lost, thanks to a hefty dose of idiomatic expressions.
I love idioms, and the mental pictures they can invoke. My favorite expressions tend to be somewhat macabre in nature, or ridiculous as far as imagery and origins are concerned, or they simply have something to do with torturing cats. Here are ten of my favorites.