The phrase cats in the cradle is a classic idiom: Taken together, its words mean something entirely different than they would on their ownliterally, a cat inside a babys cradle. Whats more, you arent likely to be able to figure out that meaning through deduction; you simply must know the expression outright. If youre unfamiliar with it, this article will share the definition of cats in the cradle so that you can use this popular idiomatic expression correctly when writing and speaking.
The popular definition of the saying cats in the cradle comes from the phrases use in a song of the same title recorded and released by folk artist and songwriter Harry Chapin in 1974. Actually, although Chapin added his own words before recording the song, the lyrics were taken from a poem written by his wife, which, as the song does, expressed the importance of a close father and son relationship and the difficulty that can arise in building and creating that dynamic in a world where a father is often hard at work outside of the home.
Shes said to have gotten the idea for the piece from the poor relationship her first husband had with his father, as well as from a country song she heard and liked that shared a similar sentiment. The lyrics have also been seen by some as a commentary, albeit a loving one, on her second husbands life as a musician, which required he be constantly on the road away from his family. When Chapin reworked the lyrics, he incorporated the references to childrens nursery rhymes, including those familiar to us like Little Boy Blue and The Man in the Moon. Although not well known by many, there is a Dutch fairy tale entitled The Cat and the Cradle, which is most likely where he got his famous line and song title from.
In a version of that tale, a cat saves a young child from a flood by traveling with it through the floodwaters in its cradle and ultimately finding help.
What does the phrase the Cats in the Cradle mean?
It refers to the importance of developing a good relationship between father and son (emphasis mine) The phrase “Cats in the Cradle” is a familiar one to most everyone, but it is a phrase that brings about mixed emotions.
Who was Cats in the Cradle written about?
One of the singer-songwriter’s biggest hits began with his wife. Sandra Chapin wrote “Cat’s In The Cradle” as a poem. Harry liked it so much he turned it into a song, saying it reminded him of his relationship with son Josh. The 1974 song chronicles a son whose dad doesn’t have time for him.
What is another name for Cat's Cradle?
In this page you can discover 14 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for cat’s cradle, like: cratch cradle, scratch cradle, entanglement, jungle, knot, labyrinth, maze, mesh, morass, skein and snarl.
If someone says that the cats in the cradle with two people, they mean that something is disrupting their relationship. The phrase Cats in the cradle is often used to refer to situations in which one person has neglected another, or there is a total breakdown of communication.
The song is about a father and sons broken relationship, and is popularly interpreted as a warning against not investing enough time in ones family. The song is about a fathers neglect for his son and is now often seen as a reference to broken commitments and the dangers of parental absence.
Chapin was likely also referencing the old wives tale that, if babies are neglected, cats climb into their cradles and kill them by sucking their breath away. This odd and morbid urban legend seems to have its roots in a real-life case that took place in Plymouth, England in 1791. In 1921, a doctor in Nebraska witnessed the family pet in the act of sucking a childs breath. This story contributed to the myths spreading.
In the song Cats in the cradle, Chapin is making a point about the perils of neglect, and what happens when a parent is not there to put their child to bed and read them stories. When Brian had a hissy fit in the hallway, his teacher Ms. Marks turned to her colleague Mr. Branson and said, Well, hes just like his dad. When James asked Shamima how her sister was doing, all she said was, well, the cats in the cradle with Yazmin and her partner again, so as you can imagine, shes not doing too well.
Before he introduced her to his parents and brother, he took her aside and said, just to give you a heads up, you might want to brace yourself , the cats in the cradle with my whole family.
I heard the expression “cat’s in the cradle” for the first time in the song by the band Ugly Kid Joe, I though at first that it was just something they came up with and I did not think there was any common meaning to that. But, couple of days ago I heard this expression again in a TV series. Does anyone know what this means?
“The Cat’s in the Cradle” is an old Harry Chapin song, and I’ve always assumed that that particular phrase originated with the song. But “cat’s cradle” is a much older term for a yo-yo trick.
I’m not aware of any “deep” meaning behind that. I wasn’t aware the song was originally by Harry Chapin, thanks! I had forgotten that “cat’s cradle” is the term commonly used to refer to a string figure game/hobby often engaged in by children.
I’m guessing that it’s a practice that’s just about died out, what with board games and TV and Legos and computer games and iPhones. I haven’t seen anyone engage in the practice for probably 55 years. A book Cat’s Cradle from 1881: amazon.com/Cats–Cradle-Children-Edward-Willett/dp/B0010P048C Hot Licks Mar 23 at 3:02
This gives some interesting history: Hot Licks Mar 23 at 3:06 @HotLicks I knew some people who played (or whatever it is you do with) cat’s cradle like 15 years ago (and we were kids). @JMac – Well, our kids didn’t play it, nor any of their friends that I know of.
You needed to be taught by someone, and that was generally an older kid or that strange aunt of yours. I learned it a bit from Liz down the street — she had a fairly large family. I may also have played it a bit in elementary school — my recollection is pretty vague there.
@HotLicks I played Cat’s Cradle when I was in school, and have played it with my children we even have a book that came with a loop of string and shows various patterns, like this one but they have never played it on the playground with their peers. They also seem to have lost clapping games and most jump-rope games/rhymes. All of these were passed along at the playground level, though, so it’s possible that this rural school never had them the way my inner-city school did, or lost them much longer ago than my childhood.
@Hot Licks – My kids play it fairly frequently. It’s one of the regularly recurring fads at their primary school, along with Clash of Clans, spinning tops, football cards, Subway Surfers, football, and origami.