Macquarie Dictionary


Do you cry over spilt milk or whip the cat?

Whip the cat, an Aussie slang expression since the 1840s, means to vent frustration over something that can’t be changed. Essentially, to cry over spilt milk. 

From phrases to memes, cats appear again and again in our culture and language. We have more than a few cat people here at Macquarie! 

Some of our favourite feline inspired slang includes herding cats (attempting to arrive at a conclusion when various elements of the process keep changing), while we see which way the cat jumps (await the outcome of events) right before we set the cat amongst the pigeons (disrupt or disturb).

We would however prefer to avoid being catfished or looking like something the cat dragged in! Not to mention the phrase no room to swing a cat, and the appalling imagery of dead cat bounce.

Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.

Leave a Comment

Featured Articles