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

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 swallowed 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 swallowed the canary.
See also: canary, cat, like, look, swallow, that

the cat that swallowed the canary

Someone who is smugly pleased or self-satisfied. After her promotion, Janet spent the rest of the day looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. Look at those kids with their ice creams—the cats that swallowed the canaries!
See also: canary, cat, swallow, that

the cat that ate the canary

Someone who is smugly pleased or self-satisfied. After her promotion, Janet spent the rest of the day looking like the cat that ate the canary. Look at those kids with their ice creams—the cats that ate the canaries!
See also: ate, canary, cat, 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.

cat that swallowed the canary, (look) like the

Look both smug and guilty. The analogy dates back to the mid-nineteenth century and was used by many writers, especially mystery writers (Dashiel Hammett among them), in the first half of the twentieth century.
See also: cat, like, swallow, that

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 ?
"Canaries and finches are peckers, not destroyers, so toys and accessories made from grasses, woods, ground seashells, coconut shells and cuttlebone are all popular," Savitt said.
Victory is also necessary for the Canaries on Friday because they need morale ahead of their Europa League round of 32 first leg against Lokomotiv Moskva in ystanbul on Feb.
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.
The website www.safecanarynest.com is designed to help these canaries build safe nests.
Norwich flew to Manchester yesterday ahead of tonight's Capital One Cup fourth-round tie with United, but the Canaries are far from flying in the Premier League, where they next meet City on Saturday, having lost five of their opening nine matches to sit third from bottom.
Meanwhile, in the present day, a banker called Bob Drake hosts an investors' day at Canary Wharf where wine experts extol the virtues of a supposedly fine Canaries wine.
Canaries down mines, isn't that something the Victorians used to do?
Canary Files draw their name from canaries used in coalmines.
Depuis deja belle lurette, les relations de cooperation entre le conseil de la Region Souss Massa Draa et les Iles Canaries vont bon train.
BIRD owners from Britain and Ireland are expected to bring up to 800 canaries for an annual competition next weekend.
But the canary underground recalls the mine canaries in their cages, brought along to warn of poison in the air.
Inside & Oceanview SOLD OUT pounds 699pp Balcony Princess Special Grand Princess - 11 nights 4th June 2011 CANARIES Southampton - At Sea - Gran Canaria Canary Islands - Tenerife Canary Islands - Lanzarote Canary Islands - Madeira Portugal - At Sea - Vigo Spain - At Sea - Southampton.
The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100km west of the border between Morocco and the western Sahara.
The name of the build and the post introducing them refer to the usage of canaries as test for poisonous gases in mines, before humans would descend.