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Curiosity Killed the Cat

cat on a laptop

Curiosity Killed the Cat Definition

Curiosity killed the cat. Unnecessary snooping can get you into trouble.

Meaning

An overly curious cat can get themself in harm’s way. For example wondering into the street or a vicious dog’s yard.

Curiosity Killed the Cat Examples

  • “Hey I think Jane and Terry are fighting, I might see if I can hear what it’s about.” “Ok but just remember curiosity killed the cat!”
  • Did you know about three people a year die falling into the Grand Canyon? I guess curiosity does kill the cat.

Quotes

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.

Steven Wright

Curiosity killed the cat, but where human beings are concerned, the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.

Harry Lorayne

Curiosity Killed the Cat Origin

Spiritual Origin

Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care’ll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman.

Every Man in His Humor, Ben Jonson

Every Man in His Humors is a play by English playwright Ben Jonson. It is part of the ‘humor comedy’ subgenre where in each main character is given a personality dominated by one obsession or trait. They play is thought to be performed by The Chamberlain’s Men, a group of actors including the one and only William Shakespeare.

Literary Origin

Curiosity killed the cat.

Proverbs and Family Mottos, James Allan Mair, 1891

The earliest writing of the phrase as we know it today appears in Proverbs and Family Mottos a book by author James Allan Mair published in 1891. James has released multiple works collecting various Scottish Prose, proverbs and mottos. As this is simply a collection of phrases it is unlikely to be the true origin.