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

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 his or her 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

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

like the cat that got the cream

  (British & Australian) also like the cat that ate the canary (American)
if someone looks like the cat that got the cream, they annoy other people by looking very pleased with themselves because of something good that they have done Of course Mark got a glowing report so he was sitting there grinning like the cat that got the cream.
See also: cat, cream, like

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
companies that have implemented regular canaries include Virtru, (23)
their use of canaries, the legality of these declarations will become a
Was it only canaries that had the honour of being put in a cage and plunged miles under the earth?
The Canaries and Kayserispor had contrasting fortunes in their week 13 Super League matches.
If that happens, then the Canaries could be vulnerable against Prosinecki's men, who are hungry and thirsty for a victory that will move them away from the relegation zone.
One Midland breeder, who asked not to be named, said: 'Supplies of the cock canaries, which are especially sensitive to the gases and chemicals, are being bought up in their thousands.
For 23-year-old Canaries pitcher Marc Mosman, Howe's presence already has had an impact.
This site was only discovered in 1911, and not by anyone on a cruise to the Canaries.
Although more sophisticated sensors have since replaced canaries in mines, humans still occasionally tap into the sensitivity of animals to detect chemicals in the environment.
Canary Foundation is named after the "early detection" role canaries once played by alerting coal miners of hazardous fumes.
In a recent study designed to see how well cowbirds learn to sing without models, West and her colleagues housed 10 young male cowbirds (Molothrus ater artemisiae) with either female cowbirds or canaries (Serinus canaria).
The Canary Foundation, named for the "early detection" role canaries once played by alerting coal miners of hazardous fumes, is the United States' only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to the early detection of cancer.
Adult canaries and zebra finches generate a fresh supply of brain cells to replace those lost with age in forebrain regions that control song learning and production, according to a report in the Sept.
CALLOUS thieves have stolen valuable canaries and left other birds for dead in a series of swoops on aviaries in the Black Country.
Former Cardif City striker Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond put Norwich 2-0 up inside 15 minutes as the Canaries returned to the top flight a year after relegation.