What Does Look What The Cat Dragged In Mean?

Look What The Cat Dragged In Meaning

Definition: Look who’s here!

People use this expression to acknowledge that someone new has entered a room or space. The phrase usually implies that the entering person is disagreeable in some way. However, people can also use it in a jocular manner, rather than simply being rude.

For differences on dragged vs. drug, see here.

Origin of Look What The Cat Dragged In

The exact origin for this expression is unclear. However, digital records seem to indicate that this expression began to appear in the early 1900s.

Look what the cat drug in The idea behind this idiom is clear to anyone who has owned a pet cat with access to the outside and inside of the house. Despite being domesticated, cats love to hunt. They will often bring back the bounty of their hunts to the house. It is possible they mean to offer their kills as gifts to their human owners.

Regardless, most owners do not appreciate the dead or dying game brought back to their house. These animals are often small rodents covered in blood and spit. In other words, they look disgusting.

Therefore, look what the cat dragged in is a way of saying look what a disgusting thing just entered the room.

Examples of Look What The Cat Dragged In

look who the cat dragged in In this dialogue, two employees are discussing their weekend plans when a third co-worker enters their office. In this case, they use the expression in order to joke with someone with which they are on friendly terms.

Deanna: That sounds like a fun weekend! I think I’ll go dancing with my fiancé. It should be great!

Emily: Oh, I hear someone approaching. Look busy!

Deanna: Don’t worry. It’s just Michael.

*Michael enters the office*

Emily: Oh, look what the cat dragged in!

Michael: What?

Emily: I’m just joking because you are soaking wet. You look like something the cat dragged in.

Michael: Oh, I see. Well, it was raining, and I had no umbrella.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a man who went back home after an extended stay away.

  • I’d flown back from Mexico City after a month working in the States. I’d done so only to remind my long-suffering family of my existence. It was a good thing that I did. The two dogs sniffed me suspiciously, egged on by my pig, Wilbur, who was hurling abuse from his enclosure. Even the cat gave me a “look what the cat dragged in” attitude. –Independent

This excerpt is about the playfully antagonistic relationship between two people.

  • With Marios, whenever we’d cross paths, we’d size one another up, tilt our heads and say “Ooooooooh.” As if to say, “Well, look what the cat dragged in.” –Miami Herald


The expression look what the cat dragged in means Look, everyone, acknowledge this person. It can have a negative connotation, or it could be an instance of gentle teasing.