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Hey, Camp People!

Amidst weeks of prepping and secret planning—your friend's surprise birthday party just around the corner—you can’t believe your own slip of the tongue when they ask you what you’re doing this weekend and you respond without thinking twice, “I’ll be at your party!”

You blurt it out...and then watch as their eyes widen in slow motion as you both come to the realization that this ‘surprise’ is no longer a secret. How did this happen? You just let the cat out of the bag.

But what's the origin of this curious phrase? Why do we use this saying when we accidentally reveal a secret? To find the answer, we journey back to a time when the marketplace was bustling with activity and cunning vendors.

Back in the day, livestock was bought and sold at the marketplace and there were many crafty traders who would trick their customers in order to make a dishonest sale. Someone purchasing a pig, for example, would get home to discover the pig they were supposed to have acquired had been swapped with a less valuable animal—frequently a cat.

As the unsuspecting buyer would open the bag and watch as a feline surprise would reveal itself, they would be—in a rather literal sense—letting the cat out of the bag. Thus, this phrase became synonymous with the act of accidentally revealing a hidden secret or truth.

In essence, whether you're navigating the labyrinth of secrets or sharing stories around the fire at summer camp, the origins of age-old phrases like these add an extra layer of depth and curiosity to our language. So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you unintentionally reveal sensitive information, remember the story of the sneaky vendor and the bagged cat and let this phrase serve as a whimsical reminder of the consequences that come with revealing a secret out of turn.

Check back in when we return for another Adage Origin Blog post in February when we’ll take a look at our next phrase. Thanks for reading and, as always, Happy Camping!


- John

Posted in Adage Origin


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