(Has the) cat got your tongue?

(Has the) cat got your tongue?

A humorous question directed at one who is not speaking very much or at all. A: "What's wrong, sonny? Cat got your tongue?" B: "Oh, he's just shy around new people, that's all."
See also: cat
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

(Has the) Cat got your tongue?

Why are you not saying anything? (Often said by adults to children.) Grandpa used to terrify me, both because he was big and fierce-looking and because he usually greeted me by bellowing, "Cat got your tongue?" Hi, Lisa! How are you? How's your husband? Are you surprised to see me? What's the matter, has the cat got your tongue?
See also: cat
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cat got one's tongue

A comment made when someone is unaccountably or unusually quiet, as in We haven't heard from you all morning-has the cat got your tongue? Often put as a question, this term originally was used mainly with a child who did something wrong and refused to answer any questions. Today it is used more generally to ask anyone to speak. [Mid-1800s]
See also: cat, tongue
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

has the cat got your tongue?

People say Has the cat got your tongue? when they think that someone who is silent should be saying something. Has the cat got your tongue? Can't you even say hello? Note: This expression is often used angrily.
See also: cat
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

(has the) cat got your tongue?

(informal) why don’t you say anything?: What’s the matter — cat got your tongue?
See also: cat
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cat got your tongue, has the

Why are you silent? According to Eric Partridge, this term dates from the mid-nineteenth century in both England and the United States and was one of several phrases used in addressing a child who, after getting into trouble, refused to answer questions. The literal meaning is quite far-fetched, so it obviously comes from the grown-up’s invention of some bizarre circumstance that prevents the child from speaking. There is an analogous French idiom, “I throw [or give] my tongue to the cat,” meaning “I give up; I have nothing to say.”
See also: cat
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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