Posted by: Jack Henry | February 28, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Copycat

Dear Editrix,

Why is the term copycat? Cats don’t copy anything; they just sit and stare. Dogs try to copy. Why isn’t the term copydog?


Linda T.

Dear Linda,

I thought this might be easy to research, but I had a tough time finding any in-depth explanations. Some people said it should be copy-monkey because of the phrase “monkey see, monkey do.” One site said that the phrase has been in use since 1896, in the book The Country of Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett.

Here is Merriam-Webster’s official definition of copycat:

1: one who imitates or adopts the behavior or practice of another

2: an imitative act or product — often used before another noun <copycat board games>

According to another scrap of information, the writer says the expression may come from the habits of kittens and how they imitate the actions of their mothers. Watch this, and you be the judge!

Copycat and copykitten

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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