bell the cat
bell the cat
- do a dangerous job.
- undertake a dangerous task.
- tackle a risky endeavor.
- attempt a hazardous feat.
- dare a perilous deed.
- face a precarious mission.
- confront a challenging operation.
- meet a threatening challenge.
- Someone has to bell the cat and organize the office fundraiser, but so far, no one has volunteered.
- I’d rather not be the one who has to bell the cat and tell the boss her ideas won’t work.
- No one on the team seemed willing to bell the cat and ask for a raise this year.
- I don’t envy the person who has to bell the cat and implement the new company-wide software upgrade.
- The political candidates all promised change, but no one wanted to bell the cat and actually make the hard decisions.
- Tim finally volunteered to bell the cat and organize this year’s company picnic.
- Can some brave soul please bell the cat and fix the air conditioner before we all melt?
- Someone needs to bell the cat and inform the police that the wanted gangster is living in the suburbs.
The phrase “bell the cat” originated from an old Greek Aesop’s fable called “The Mice in Council.”
In the fable, mice held a council to figure out how to be freed from the threats of a cat. One mouse proposed that if they could put a bell around the cat’s neck, they would be warned of its approach. All the mice agreed that this was a good plan.
However, when asked who would actually perform the dangerous task of putting the bell on the cat, none volunteered. They talked at length about the plan but were unwilling to actually carry it out when faced with the real risks.
The phrase “to bell the cat” comes directly from this fable, referring to the dangerous act of literally putting a bell on the cat. Since the fable itself uses that exact phrase in depicting an action that is suggested but not actually performed due to fear, it clearly coined and popularized the expression.
The fable’s moral is that it’s easy to suggest and discuss bold ideas but difficult to find those willing to carry them out when faced with the associated dangers. The phrase “to bell the cat” passed into common usage, meaning “to undertake a dangerous task,” originating from Aesop’s fable where the mice failed to actually “bell the cat.”