Avere sette vite come un gatto” is a very popular Italian idiom!

If you are learning Italian, you have probably heard the idiom “avere sette vite come un gatto” since people use it quite a lot: it’s an easy expression to learn that finds correspondence in other languages as well, so you might have a similar one in your native language!

This idiom has the same meaning of the English ” to have nine lives like a cat”: the idea is identical, however the number of lives is different, seven in the Italian version and nine in the English one.

In general, this idiomatic expression is used when someone who is good at getting out of negative situations without bad consequences.

Let’s learn more about this idiom!

The belief related to this expression dates back to the Middle Ages, when cats were considered evil animals and tortured for that. Nevertheless, cats always survived, so they were believed to have seven lives (or nine in the English speaking world).

Why seven? Because the number seven has a specific meaning: it means perfection and symbolises life and eternity. Same thing for number nine in the English expression: since three is the perfect number, nine (three times three) is absolute perfection!

Some nice examples now!

Italian English
Francesco ha avuto un brutto incidente con la macchina ma non si è fatto niente, ha sette vite come un gatto! Francesco had a bad car accident but he didn’t get hurt at all, he has nine lives like a cat!
Quel politico ha sette vite come un gatto: dopo lo scandalo nel quale è stato coinvolto, ha fondato un nuovo partito. That politician has nine lives like a cat: after the scandal he was involved in, he founded a new party.
Dopo la sconfitta dell’anno precedente, i calciatori hanno lavorato sodo e l’anno dopo hanno vinto il campionato. Hanno sette vite come un gatto! After the previous year’s fail, the footballers worked hard and the year after they won the championship. They have nine lives like a cat!


Your turn now: when did you manage to survive in a very difficult situation?

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