English edit

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the Cheshire cat in the 1866 publication of Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Etymology edit

Term attested since at least the 1780s in the expression grin like a Cheshire cat. The reason why Cheshire was combined with cat is disputed: see here for more information.

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌtʃɛʃə ˈkat/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌtʃɛʃɚ ˈkæt/
  • Rhymes: -æt
  • Hyphenation: Chesh‧ire cat

Proper noun edit

the Cheshire cat (plural Cheshire cats)

  1. A fictional cat with a broad fixed grin, made popular by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
    • 1788, Francis Grose, A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue, 2nd corrected and enlarged edition, London:
      CHESHIRE CAT. He grins like a Cheshire cat; said of any one who shows his teeth and gums in laughing.
    • 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, Barbara Sleigh, Jessamy, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, published 1993, →ISBN, 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 quotations using this term, see Citations:Cheshire cat.
  2. (programming, attributive) A technique that involves hiding a class's data behind a pointer, so that the code remains binary-compatible even after future changes to members and functionality.
    the Cheshire cat idiom
    the Cheshire cat technique

Derived terms edit

Translations edit