Cats and Secrets
In English, there is a common idiom “let the cat out of the bag.” It means to tell a secret. But where did this idiom start?
It came from a section of England. Long ago, people there went from town to town to sell things like vegetables, clothes, and pigs. They had strong beliefs about honesty. They didn’t like lying. One day, a man went to the section’s center to sell things.
“I have a baby pig for sale! It won’t cost much,” he said. He held the animal above his head. His style was different from honest people’s style. He was a master of tricking people and lying.
A woman named Beth scanned his pig. He offered her the pig for one gold coin. That was a very small amount. Beth gave him the coin. He put it in his pocket. He walked ahead of Beth to get the pig.
He gave her a closed bag and said, “Here’s your pig.” He then left very quickly.
Beth looked at the bag’s surface. It was moving. She opened it to let the pig out. A cat was inside! “He tricked me! That isn’t proper,” she said.
Later, the man returned to trick more people. Beth saw him and the memory of the cat came back. She told her friends. They stopped him. But no one knew what to do next.
Someone said, “We need an independent and fair person to decide that.” They went to the judge. Beth told him about the cat in the bag.
The judge asked, “Is there evidence? Can you demonstrate how he did it?”
Look in his bag, said Beth. She opened it and let a cat out of the bag. They learned the man’s secret, and he went to jail.
That’s how the idiom “let the cat out of the bag” came to mean to tell a secret.
这就是“let the cat out of the bag”这个成语含义的由来。