cat’s pajamas

December 5, 2007


Clearly these are not Pumpkin’s pajamas. However, you can tell by the look on his furry little face, that he was very anxious to demonstrate today’s animal idiom for you. “The Cat’s Pajama’s

The term “Cat’s Pajamas” got it’s start in the 1920’s, or roaring twenties, when pajamas (or pyjamas, if you’re from the U.K.) were a bit of a novelty. The term was coined by the sports writer and cartoonist at the time, Thomas A. Dorgan and along with “Bees Knees”, “Cat’s Meow” and “Cat’s Whiskers” meant “the height of excellence.” Similar phrases used in the 20’s but didn’t quite catch on were:

“the eel’s ankle”, “the elephant’s instep”, “the snake’s hip”, “the capybara’s spats”, “the flea’s eyebrows” and “canary’s tusks,” (hee heeeee, canary tusks!)

Along with these terms, Dorgan is generally credited with either creating or popularizing such words and expressions as:

dumbbell (a stupid person)

for crying out loud (an exclamation of astonishment)

cheaters (eyeglasses)

skimmer (a hat)

hard-boiled (a tough person)

drugstore cowboy (loafers or ladies’ men)

nickel-nurser (a miser)

as busy as a one-armed paperhanger (overworked)

Dumb Dora (uh, dumb)

Benny (for hat) and dogs (for shoes)

Sources: Wikipedia and Phrase Finder

Oh, Pumpkin also wanted me to point out that there were three cat related terms for “height of excellence.”

Thank you, Pumpkin, now get out of my pajamas.