The term is attested since at least the 1780s.
- A fictional grinning cat, made popular by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- 1865 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- “Please would you tell me,“ said Alice, a little timidly, for she was not quite sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, “why your cat grins like that?“ “It’s a Cheshire-Cat,“ said the Duchess, “and that’s why.“
1967, Sleigh, Barbara, Jessamy, 1993 edition, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, ISBN 0 340 19547 9, page 127:
- ‘It’s almost as if we’ve gone silly with happiness,’ said Marcus two days later. ‘Everyone in the house going round grinning like a lot of Cheshire Cats! The family I mean.’ ‘And Jess,’ said Kitto quickly. ‘Oh well, Jess is as good as family,’ said Fanny comfortably. Jessamy said nothing, but she looked up quickly and her smile would have rivalled any Cheshire Cat.
- For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:Cheshire cat.