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The Idiom "Bell the Cat"

The idiom "Bell the cat".

To "bell the cat" means to take the danger of a shared enterprise upon oneself. It means to agree to attempt an impossibly difficult task that if achieved, will benefit the entire community. 

ORIGIN of the idiom.

The idiom comes from a fable attributed to a Greek storyteller, Aesop, called The MICE IN COUNCIL.

Once upon a time, there was a general shopkeeper. His shop was filled with sacks of grains. The mice in his shop used to make holes in the sacks and ate up all the grains. This continued till one day his wife suggested to bring a cat home. "The cat will eat all the mice and thus we will get rid of them," said his wife. The shopkeeper found the idea very good, so he decided to bring a cat. As they both have thought, the cat ate many mice. Soon the mice got decreasing in number. Then one day all the mice gathered and thought about how to get rid of the cat. As they all were busy in their thoughts, a little mouse came up with an idea. It said, "Dear friends, I have an idea. This night, we will take a bell and hang it on the cat's neck when it is asleep. As soon as it comes near us we will hear the bell's sound and run away, so we all will be saved." All the mice liked this idea. But now the question was, who will hang the bell on the cat's neck? Who will "bell" the cat? No one dared even to go near the cat. So the cat continued eating the mice and one day there was no mice in the shop.

....origin of the idiom, BELL THE CAT.

© Ajah Chukwudi

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