We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Curiosity Killed the Cat" Mean?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” is an English language idiom that is not meant to be taken literally. The meaning of this phrase serves as a warning that acting upon curiosity can be dangerous. It is thought to be derived from the fact that cats are naturally curious creatures that have a tendency to wander off and get into dangerous or unpleasant situations. Occasionally, the person who has been warned with this phrase answers with the reply, “satisfaction brought it back,” meaning that even if acting upon curiosity leads to a dangerous situation, the satisfaction of finding out the answer and relieving the curiosity is worth the risk.

Different situations in which this idiom might be used slightly change the interpretation of why acting upon curiosity might be dangerous. In some cases, an individual might be warning a friend against doing something that might be physically harmful for the sake of satisfying curiosity. For example, someone who wants to find out what skydiving is like or someone who wants to explore an abandoned building after dark might be warned that curiosity killed the cat.

The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” can also be used in less literal terms. For example, an individual could use this phrase to discourage a prying or nosy person from asking too many questions that he or she might not want to know the answers to. In this case, the person might not actually be killed if he or she does not heed the warning, but instead might be subjected to embarrassment or other emotional discomfort.

This idiom illustrates a belief that curiosity and inquisitiveness are bad traits, and that quiet individuals who do not try to pry every detail out of a person or situation possess more desirable qualities. In most societies, it is more acceptable for an individual to “mind his own business” rather than ask nosy questions out of curiosity. Likewise, if someone were to explore a possibly dangerous situation and get into trouble, he or she might be considered “stupid” for trying to satisfy the curiosity, or worse, deserving of the fate that he or she has stumbled upon. Sometimes, a teacher, parent, or other caregiver might tell a child that curiosity killed the cat as a means of frightening the child and discouraging him from exploring or wandering off and possibly becoming injured.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Feb 01, 2014

Drentel -You may think those expressions are harmless, but in some cases they can actually stifle a child's natural curiosity. We should encourage children to explore, ask questions and learn about the world in which they live.

By Drentel — On Jan 31, 2014

Sporkasia - The article did say the expression should not be taken literally, so I guess the cat is still alive and doing well. Curiosity killed the cat and quotes like that are pretty much harmless.

I was always getting into things and putting my nose where it didn't belong as a kid and my grandmother would use that expression to remind me to mind my own business or to stay away from places I didn't belong.

By Sporkasia — On Jan 30, 2014

"Curiosity killed the cat." Isn't that a terrible expression. In part because a dead cat is no fun, but mostly because it speaks negatively of curiosity. I know it is said that necessity is the mother of invention, but curiosity could be the father or a very close uncle at least.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.