What is the origin of the phrase, "there's more than one way to skin a cat”?
Is the cat skinning done when the cat is still alive?
American humorist and writer Seba Smith (1792 – 1868) generally gets credit for coining the phrase in 1840 in "The Money Diggers". Mark Twain also used it in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court" in 1889.
Cat skinning for women's furs was practiced in Europe in the 17th century, and most accounts from that era agree it is nigh on to impossible to skin a living cat. However, the American idiom very well may refer to skinning not cats but catfish.
SKIN THE CAT - According to Charles Earle Funk in "A Hog on Ice" (Harper & Row, New York, 1948) the expression "to skin the cat" refers to a boy's gymnastic trick: "In America, as any country boy knows, this means to hang by the hands from a branch or bar, draw the legs up through the arms and over the branch, and pull oneself up into a sitting position. As we must abide by the record, we cannot say positively that the name for this violent small-boy exercise is more than a century old, but it is highly likely that Ben Franklin or earlier American lads had the same name for it. No one got around to putting it into print until about 1845. One can't be sure why the operation was called 'skinning the cat,' but maybe some mother, seeing it for the first time, saw in it some resemblance to the physical operation of removing the pelt from a cat, first from the forelegs and down over the body."
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