canary

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canary in a coal mine

Something or someone who, due to sensitivity to his, her, or its surroundings, acts as an indicator and early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger. Refers to the former practice of taking caged canaries into coal mines. The birds would die if methane gas became present and thereby alert miners to the danger. Wildlife in disaster movies assumes the role of the canary in a coal mine, fleeing the scene when catastrophe is imminent. Unaware that he had been given the test drug, John was used as a canary in a coal mine to see its effects on the human mind.
See also: canary, coal, mine

look like the cat that ate the canary

1. To appear smug and/or overly pleased with oneself to others, especially over something one has done, received, or accomplished. After her promotion, Janet spent the rest of the day looking like the cat that ate the canary.
2. To have the appearance of guilt but attempt to hide behind an air of smugness or feigned nonchalance. When questioned on the use of campaign funds for his own personal pleasure, the senator looked like the cat that ate the canary.
See also: ate, canary, cat, like, look, that

miner's canary

Something or someone who, due to sensitivity to his, her, or its surroundings, acts as an indicator and early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger. Refers to the former practice of taking caged canaries into coal mines—the birds would die if methane gas was present, thereby alerting miners to the danger. Wildlife in disaster movies always acts like the miner's canary, fleeing the scene when catastrophe is imminent. John was used as a miner's canary to see the test drug's effects on the human mind.
See also: canary

sing like a canary

To inform against someone to the police or other authority about their criminal or illicit behavior. I heard Joey Malone has been singing like a canary in the hopes of getting his sentence reduced. Let's make sure he's sleeping with the fishes before he gets the chance!
See also: canary, like, sing

like the cat that got the cream

Obviously smug and/or overly pleased with oneself. After her promotion, Janet spent the rest of the day looking like the cat that got the cream.
See also: cat, cream, like, that

look like the cat that swallowed the canary

Fig. to appear as if one had just had a great success. After the meeting John looked like the cat that swallowed the canary. I knew he must have been a success. Your presentation must have gone well. You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.
See also: canary, cat, like, look, swallow, that

look like the cat that ate the canary

Also, look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Appear smug and self-satisfied. For example, After she hit her third winning shot, Jeannie looked like the cat that ate the canary. [Second half of 1800s]
See also: ate, canary, cat, like, look, that

like the cat that got the cream

BRITISH or

like the cat that ate the canary

AMERICAN
If someone looks like the cat that got the cream, they look satisfied and happy with themselves because they have been successful or done something they are proud of. `Thanks a million,' he repeats, grinning like the cat that got the cream. Jules stands at one end, looking like the cat that ate the canary.
See also: cat, cream, like, that

canary

(kəˈnɛri)
1. n. a female singer. The band had a cute canary who could really sing.
2. n. a capsule of Nembutal, a barbiturate. (Drugs. The capsule is yellow.) There are a couple of blues, which ought to do the same as canaries.
3. n. a police informer who sings to the police. (see also stool (pigeon).) Spike is no canary. He would never squeal on us.

the cat that ate the canary

Happy, often in a selfsatisfied way. Someone who was very pleased—and often smug—was compared to a house cat that figured out a way to liberate a pet bird from its cage and enjoy the aftermath.
See also: ate, canary, cat, that
References in periodicals archive ?
But the sudden drop in form of the Canaries is a cause for serious concern.
The Canaries were nervous with Boro making the running and Grabban and Graham Dorrans replaced Jerome and Wes Hoolahan as they tried to wrestle back control with 16 minutes left.
Bird breeders preparing for next weekend's National Cage & Aviary Birds Exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre revealed that Americans have been importing male canaries in their thousands since the September 11 World Trade Centre atrocities.
Nevertheless, Farinelli did include the works by Richard Hakluyt (1599), Pinkerton (1808-14), Samuel Purchas (1626), and Alexander von Humboldt (1852), all of which contain excerpts devoted to the Canaries.
Canaries will be available for sale when they start singing again in September (canaries don't sing during their molting season).
Tenerife, a province of Spain, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, and benefits from the so-called Canaries cold-stream, which has an extraordinary moderating effect on its climate (yearly temperatures range from 64 degrees to 78 degrees and from the refreshing trade winds, so greatly appreciated by seafarers.
If that happens, then the Canaries could be vulnerable against Robert Prosinecki's men, who are hungry and thirsty for a victory that will move them away from the relegation zone
Visitors to the beach this weekend will be able to test their skills on an electronic surfboard, sample typical Canarian food and experience carnival - Canaries style.
Originally bred in the Canaries as a cross between mastiffs and bulldogs in the 19th century, they were later used on the Spanish mainland as hunting animals.
This already ties in with a draft Commission paper - still awaiting approval - which says the Canaries and the EU's other six 'ultra-peripheral' or 'outermost' regions need to diversify their economies to overcome the handicaps their face (see European Report No 2464).
Male canaries sing to attract mates, but the whistling parts of their songs don't seem to interest the females much.
The left-handed reliever, whose career was interrupted by seven drug-related suspensions, signed last month with the Sioux Falls Canaries, who open their season in the independent Northern League on May 30.
SAN DIEGO -- "The Fortune 500 fired more people than they hired in the last thirty years," claimed Gary Sutton, author of "Corporate Canaries.
But the Yellow Canaries, despite their sour mood, needed victory at all costs in week 10 away over struggling newcomer Akhisar Belediyespor at Manisa 19 Mayys Stadium on Saturday evening to avoid another week of merciless sports media bashing.