by Staff writer
English is hard, even for the English!
“To bell the cat” is an idiom which means “to perform a very dangerous or very difficult task”.
The expression is taken metaphorically from a fable about a mouse who proposes to put a bell on a cat, so as to be able to hear the cat coming.
In the story, a group of mice debate on how best to deal with the threat of a marauding cat.
One of them proposes placing a bell around the cat’s neck, so that they are warned of its approach.
The plan is applauded by the others, until one mouse asks who will volunteer to place the bell on the cat.
All of them begin making excuses.
And that’s how the story gives rise to the idiom “to bell the cat”, which means to attempt, or agree to perform, an impossibly difficult task!