Not Enough Room to Swing A Cat
Not Enough Room to Swing A Cat : Phrases
Space is very tight; the room is very tiny.
The cat in this phrase is of the cat o'nine tails type. The nine-thronged whip was used as punishment at sea. Because space was at a premium below decks, there was not enough room to wield the whip. As a result, the whipping always took place on deck.
Alternative: Evidence against the above origin comes from the fact that the expression was in use in the 1500s and the cat o'nine tails was not invented until the mid 1600s. The saying may involve felines, since there used to be a sport of swinging cats as targets for archers. This was either by their tails, in a sack, or in a leather bottle. Shakespeare, in Much Ado About Nothing (I,i) uses the phrase hang me in a bottle like a cat.
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