Like Something The Cat Dragged In

Also: Like something the cat brought in

Meaning of the Idiom ‘Like Something the Cat Dragged In’

A person who looks like something the cat dragged in is messy, bedraggled, dirty, or exhausted looking. 1Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage

The expression is basically used to mean ‘you don’t look good.’ It is not intended to be cruel but instead carries a touch of lightheartedness.

Examples Of Use

“As for getting up in the dead of night to feed the baby, Billy says I look like desolation–’like something the cat dragged in,’ was his latest pretty compliment. – Saturday’s Child (Kathleen Norris, 1914)

“He sure looks like something the cat dragged in,” Hank continued. “What for you don’t bury him in time?” – Saturday Evening Post (Volume 184, 1911)

“A razor,” Pike pleaded. “I want to get rid of this spinach. I must look like something the cat dragged in.” Everybody’s Magazine (Volume 47, 1922)

Origin

Used since around 1910.

This idiom alludes to a cat bringing his prey, such as a mouse or bird, home.

More Idioms Starting with L

More Animal Idioms

More Cat Idioms

More Drag Idioms

More ‘In’ Idioms

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.