there's more than one way to skin a cat
Origin unknown. Other proverbs with the same meaning referencing the killing of animals are also attested, some as early as the 17th century; see, for example, “there are more ways to kill a dog than hanging” (1678), “there is more than one way to kill a cat” (1833), and “more ways of killing a cat than choking her with cream” (1855).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ðɛəz ˈmɔː‿ð(ə)n wʌn ˈweɪ tə ˈskɪn‿ə ˈkæt/, /ðɛːz-/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ðɛɚz ˈmɔɹ‿ð(ə)n wʌn ˈweɪ tə ˈskɪn‿ə ˈkæt/, /ðɛɹz-/, /-ɾə-/
- Rhymes: -æt
- (originally US) A problem generally has more than one solution; there is more than one way to achieve a goal.
- Synonyms: all roads lead to Rome, (rare) there's more than one way to cook an egg, (rare) there's more than one way to crack an egg, (rare) there's more than one way to peel an orange
- 1835 November 11, quoting the New York Transcript, “Eccentricities of a Mad Man”, in Benj[amin] Kingsbury, Jr., editor, Zion’s Herald, volume VI, number 45, Boston, Mass.: Boston Wesleyan Association, OCLC 1268280604, page 180, column 2:
- At any rate, thought I, there's more than one way to skin a cat, as a butcher would say.
- [1854, Seba Smith, “The Money-diggers and Old Nick”, in ’Way Down East; or, Portraitures of Yankee Life, New York, N.Y.: J[ames] C[ephas] Derby, […]; Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson & Co. […], OCLC 1383358, page 169:
- This is a money digging world of ours; and, as it is said, "there are more ways than one to skin a cat," so are there more ways than one of digging for money. But, in some mode or other, this seems to be the universal occupation of the sons of Adam.]
- 1889, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], “The Boss”, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, New York, N.Y.: Charles L. Webster & Company, OCLC 1072888, page 100:
- But then the Church came to the front, with an axe to grind; and she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat—or a nation; […]
- 1947 December 8, “Ex Parte Joe Fisher, Relator: Respondent’s Answer to Relator’s Motion for Rehearing”, in Joe J. Fisher, Petitioner, vs. R. C. Pace, Sheriff of Jasper County, Texas: Transcript of Record (Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1948; no. 45), Washington, D.C.: Judd & Detweiler, […], folio 90, page 65:
- Relator was, undoubtedly, at this point reminded of the old saying: "There is more than one way to skin a cat"; because he was saying the same thing in different terminology and tied it in with his original statement by saying "as I stated".
- 2021 January 25, Robin Russell-Jones, “Electric cars are not the only green solution”, in Katharine Viner, editor, The Guardian, London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0261-3077, OCLC 229952407, archived from the original on 22 March 2022:
- Nissan has elected to concentrate its European operations in Sunderland, including battery development, precisely because Boris Johnson has brought forward the phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030. […] However, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and cheaper options for ultra-low emitting vehicles are just around the corner.
There are many variations of the proverb, as indicated by some of the quotations above.
- if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail (has a somewhat opposite meaning)
- ^ J[ohn] Ray (1678) A Collection of English Proverbs […], 2nd edition, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: […] John Hayes, printer to the University, for W. Morden, OCLC 228722949, page 127: “There are more vvays to kill a dog then hanging.”
- ^ [Asa Greene] (1833), chapter IX, in The Life and Adventures of Dr. Dodimus Duckworth, A.N.Q. […], New York, N.Y.: Peter Hill, […], OCLC 723053786, page 124.
- ^ Charles Kingsley (1855) Westward Ho!: Or, The Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, […], Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 1000395614, page 327: “Hold on yet awhile. More ways of killing a cat than choking her with cream.”
- ^ Michael Quinion (created 20 February 1999, last updated 17 July 2011), “More than one way to skin a cat”, in World Wide Words.
- “there is more than one way to skin a cat” under “skin, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.
- “there's more than one way to skin a cat, phrase”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- “there's more than one way to skin a cat” (US) / “there's more than one way to skin a cat” (UK) in Macmillan English Dictionary.