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#131507 - 08/14/04 05:21 PM Scaredy cats
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
A cat passed in front of our car yesterday night and didn't speed up one bit. I had to slow down. When he reached the sidewalk, he looked back and, I swear, gave us the most disdainful look ever. It was so unequivocal that Hubby and I both had to laugh. But it did make me think.

How did the expression scaredy cat (or fraidy cat) come about? None of the cats that I have known were ever frightened easily.

#131508 - 08/14/04 09:28 PM Re: Scaredy cats
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
both of our current cats hide out when [usu. male] strangers come into the house -- one in the basement and the other upstairs under a bed. the same thing can happen during a thunderstorm. I can also occasionally make either of them jump a foot straight up by suddenly saying "boo!", or the like. they behave just like a couple of common scaredy cats.

#131509 - 08/15/04 04:32 PM Re: Scaredy cats
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Cats can be very, very cool, ergo: 'cool cat'...
but they are extraordinarily sensitive, too, and really will levitate dramatically and vertically when startled. Their reaction time--or startle time--is lightning fast. I expect because of this reaction time they--when not behaving cool--earned their 'scaredy' rep. Complex. That's one thing you can say about cats. They're complex.

#131510 - 08/16/04 01:53 AM Re: Scaredy cats
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1027
Loc: Switzerland
In German, there is no corresponding expression referring to cats, but hares take their rôle: Angsthase. In French, there is the mysterious phrase: "Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide" ("a scalded cat is afraid of cold (not hot!) water")

#131511 - 08/17/04 12:31 AM Re: Scalded cats
Jomama Offline

Registered: 03/23/04
Posts: 133
I think the phrase does'nt mean the poor steaming cat is not afraid of hot water, but that it is afraid of ALL water.
Cute way to put it,though.

#131512 - 08/17/04 02:55 PM Re: Scalded cats
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
There must be a term from psychiatry that describes the scalded cats' transference of fear of scalding water to all water. Perhaps it's simply transference, but I suspect it's probably a term that is much more involved.

#131513 - 08/17/04 08:37 PM Re: scalded cats' transference
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky

#131514 - 08/18/04 11:12 AM Transfurence?
TEd Remington Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
Psst, Jackie, come over here for a second. I wanna pelt you!


#131515 - 08/18/04 11:39 AM Re: kitty wumpus
jheem Offline

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 1475
Loc: California
scaredy cat (or fraidy cat)

The thing that I find interesting about these adjectives is that they are only used to modify the noun cat. At least in my neck of the linguistic jungle. Hmm, fraidy dog, scaredy man. Nope. But what about ascared , as in "George, usually hawkish, was awfully ascared of Liberals."? I guess they're all A-OK.

#131516 - 08/18/04 03:03 PM Re: Scaredy cats
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
Un chat échaudé craint l’eau froide

I'd never heard that expression like that wsieber. Here, it is usually just Un chat échaudé crait l'eau. No mention of cold water. Very common expression.

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