Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Trivia: Fat Cat

So you're probably all familiar with the phrase "fat cat" --  a phrase used to describe, as Etymology Online put it, "a privileged and rich person".

But where did the saying originate, and how did a cat get dragged into the mess anyway?

The phrase is almost 100 years old, dating back to the 1920's, and its original meaning was purely political in origin, describing someone with deep pockets willing to financially back a political candidate.

It was first seen in print in 1928, authored by F.R. Kent, who wrote:
"These capitalists have what the organisation needs - money to finance the campaign.
These men are needed in political circles as 'Fat Cats'."

So the original use didn't come with the current, somewhat derogatory overtones. Interesting, no?

As to why a cat was tied to such a concept when everyone knows felines are strictly apolitical (except when their vote is being 'bought' by salmon, of course)...?

According to Wiki Answers and Etymology Online, it's simply because 'cat' rhymes with 'fat' - a very typical Roaring 20's kind of slang. Nothing more.

But according to WiseGeek, it's an animal allegory. The cat is seen as a predatory animal, one that controls the behavior of others lower in the food chain. Taken this way, you can see where its meaning can be a bit negative.

It sounds to us like the meaning of  "fat cat" evolved over time.

What do you think?

sources: Wiki Answers, Etymology Online, WiseGeek and English Daily

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 Nominations are now open, through 3:00 PM EST Friday, March 8th.

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  1. well, "fat cat" sure rhymes a lot better than anything i can think of for 'dog' ...hmmm, bog dog, log dog, fog dog...just not the same ;)

  2. BOL, I only know one FAT CAT..and he goes by the name of Alfie..XXOOXXX

    Mollie and Alfie

  3. DOG HOG!!!
    DOG HOG!!!
    DOG HOG!!!

    ; )

  4. ...I'm nomination lots of great blogging friends! So many out there that make us smile.

    Don't worry... I will NOT be delegating this task to W2.
    ; ) Katie

  5. We think we love fat cats! They are warm and cuddly and they have fat purrs too!! ;)

    the critters in the cottage xo

  6. It is ironic that the Fat Cats are not at all fat. They're the only ones iwth time to go to the gym and money to eat healthy. Everything is upside down.

  7. We think the purrsons who came up with Fat Cat peeped in our windows! We also gave you an award, if you'd like to stop by & pick it up.

  8. Very Interesting! Mes loves these entomology posts!

  9. Fat cats are the BEST cats!

    Hmmm... now I know of a blog I'm going to nominate for Best Meow Blog... :) :) :)

  10. Il ne faut pas réveiller le chat qui dort = Do not wake the sleeping cat. Wonder if I painted the sign in french, huMum would stop distrubing my slumbers to come an paw type comments on these wonderful bloggies!


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