Curiosity killed the cat

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Curiosity killed the cat is a proverb that dates back to the 1500s. We will examine the meaning of the expression curiosity killed the cat, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Curiosity killed the cat is an expression used when someone is being too inquisitive. If someone is being nosy or is following a trail of information that may be dangerous or get him into trouble, he may be admonished that curiosity killed the cat. The phrase curiosity killed the cat became popular in the 1800s, but it is a later variation of the phrase care killed the cat;, the earliest known use is in Ben Jonson’s play 1598 play, Every Man in His Humour: “Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care’ll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman.” The expression also appears in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, 1599: “What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.” In these instances, the word care is used to mean worry. It is unclear when the word curiosity was substituted for the word care in this proverb.


The expression “Curiosity killed the cat” is one you likely heard on the elementary school playground. (Forbes)

And we seem to have accepted the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” as an axiom. (The Hindu)

“We don’t have the saying ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ for no reason,” notes Coit, who founded the popular Facebook group Asheville Cat Weirdos. (The Mountain Xpress)

“Curiosity killed the cat, curiosity actually burned me,” he said, adding, “Would’ve been smarter to Google, I thought about that in the ambulance ride after.” (The International Business Times)