no room to swing a cat


no room to swing a cat
also, not enough room to swing a cat


  • a very small place
  • a confined place
  • a crowded or cramped space
  • not much space

Example Sentences

  1. How do you expect all four of us to stay in that room? There’s no room to swing a cat in there.
  2. The hotel claimed to have luxurious rooms, but when we went there, we found the rooms so small and cramped that there was no room to swing a cat.
  3. There’s not enough room to swing a cat in here, how do you plan to get in a couch over here?
  4. We don’t have any room to swing a cat here, how will all that stuff fit in?
  5. Isn’t this place a bit too small? There’s no room to swing a cat in here.


The phrase is said to have originated in the British Navy and the cat refers to a whip which was called the “cat o’ nine tails”. The theory goes that there was not enough room below deck to whip the sailors as punishment, hence the phrase. However, this theory is implausible, since the first recorded use of the phrase is in 1665, in Richard Kephale’s Medela Pestilentiae. The nature of the use suggests that the phrase was already in use prior to it being written. The cat o’ nine tails, however, is recorded only in 1695.

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