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let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: If you let the cat out of the bag, you let someone know a secret.

For example:

  • We'd planned a surprise party for Donna, but some guy she works with let the cat out of the bag, so now she knows.

  • Don't forget that this is a secret, so whatever you do, don't let the cat out of the bag.

Origin: Possibly related to the fact that in England in the Middle Ages, piglets were usually sold in bags at markets. Sometimes, someone would try to cheat a buyer by putting a cat in one of the bags instead of a piglet. And if someone let the cat out of the bag, the fraudster's secret was revealed.

Quick Quiz:

After Julie let the cat out of the bag,
  1. everybody laughed
  2. we all knew
  3. they ran after it

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