The cat refers to the "cat of nine tails"; a whip used to punish sailors and kept in a bag placed on the main mast for all to see. The saying usually means that someone has done something wrong and "let the cat out of the bag". In other words, someone was in for some punishment.
By SailingQuiz November 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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What does Let the cat out of the bag mean?
What is the nautical origin of the phrase "Let the cat out of the bag"?
Definition of the nautical phrase "Let the cat out of the bag".