Tanto va la gatta al lardo

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I am interested to know what is the origin of the famous proverb:

Tanto va la gatta al lardo, che ci lascia lo zampino

I realize the figurative meaning (same as "curiosity killed the cat"), but is it known where the Italian form of the proverb was first used or what is the context of it?

Sklivvz

Posted 2013-11-05T20:46:59.993

Reputation: 2 281

I agree with Damien, some sayings often don't have a documented origin, and, if Wikipedia doesn't say anything about, I think we should deduce that the origin is unknown.Kyriakos Kyritsis 2013-11-05T21:03:36.663

3That's not actually true, otherwise (if we could rely on Wikipedia foe everything) we wouldn't have thought about opening this site here. I love Wikipedia, but there may be more precise and accurate sources for language information and the goal of this site is building a comprehensive set of answers, using them and our own knowledge.martina 2013-11-06T08:55:39.953

3This question appears to be off-topic because it is general reference.Kyriakos Kyritsis 2013-11-06T13:29:17.943

2

Oh, c'mon: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanto_va_la_gatta_al_lardo_che_ci_lascia_lo_zampino :) As for tracing the origins, it's not always easy with these popular sayings - they often don't have a clear and documented origin

Damien Pirsy 2013-11-05T20:52:24.203

There's no citation for that...Sklivvz 2013-11-05T20:54:56.327

Answers

5

According to Wikipedia, this proverb origins from the lardo being cut on cutting board using a sharp knife, such as the mezzaluna. A cat trying to steal the lardo while being cut, would eventually lead to the amputation of its paw.

As you rightfully suggested, the closest equivalent in English would be

Curiosity killed the cat

but a translation preserving the original meaning could be

Gluttony amputated the cat

Gabriele Petronella

Posted 2013-11-05T20:46:59.993

Reputation: 3 259

@odd Wait, why would lard be put on a mousetrap to catch a cat? It doesn't make any sense!Sklivvz 2013-11-09T21:58:49.277

Agree on the meaning of the proverb, pointing out that the origin of the amputation is also commonly referred to be a mouse trap.Oddlygeek 2013-11-06T05:04:26.280

1I disagree with the first translation, "Curiosity killed the cat" has its own translation in Italian. It has something to do with naive curiosity, which can lead one into a dangerous situation. The original proverb, instead, involves (as you correctly pointed out in the second attempt) gluttony, and some kind of concrete reward for which the cat is looking.astabada 2013-11-06T10:55:21.047

Because the cat is doing something he's not supposed to do (stealing lard), the meaning of the proverb is that, if you do something wrong, sooner or later you'll pay the price.astabada 2013-11-06T10:56:28.130