What does the idiom "let the cat out of the bag" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. let the cat out of the bag meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "let the cat out of the bag"


The English idiom "let the cat out of the bag" is a phrase used to describe the act of unintentionally revealing a secret or something that was supposed to remain hidden. The phrase implies that the secret or information was kept in a bag, such as a sack or purse, and has been accidentally released. The phrase is also sometimes used to describe a situation where someone deliberately reveals a secret or previously hidden information.


The phrase “let the cat out of the bag” is believed to have originated in England during the 18th century. Originally known as “sell the cat in the bag”, it was originally used to describe a scam in which a buyer would purchase a bag that supposedly contained a cat, but in fact, did not. The phrase was later reversed and transformed to represent the act of revealing a secret. Over time, the phrase has been adapted to fit more modern contexts, often being used to describe situations in which someone has let out a secret or hidden information, either accidentally or intentionally.


The phrase “let the cat out of the bag” is commonly used in both formal and informal English to describe a situation where someone has revealed a secret or hidden information. Generally, the phrase has a negative connotation, as the person revealing the secret has likely broken a trust or caused embarrassment to someone. The phrase is utilized in a variety of contexts, from everyday conversations to professional meetings, to describe a situation where a secret has been revealed.

Example Sentences

  • Oh no, she just let the cat out of the bag about her surprise party!
  • John tried to keep the secret, but he ended up letting the cat out of the bag.
  • I was really hoping to keep this a secret, but now that you've let the cat out of the bag, everyone will know.

The meanings of the words in the "let the cat out of the bag" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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