Tag Archives: curiosity

Proverb: “Curiosity killed the cat, but…”


The informant was eager to present a proverb that immediately came to mind. Before saying the proverb what it was, they claimed that it was a saying they use very frequently.

“Curiosity killed the cat,” they began, elongating the pause for emphasis. “A lot of people know that half of it,” the informant stated, “but what a lot of people don’t know is the second half of it, which I think is the most important part.” They started again, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”


The informant stated that they had a close relationship with this proverb. Before knowing the whole phrase, it seemed like a cautionary message, but getting to know the whole saying encouraged them to allow themself to be more curious. Now they’re less afraid of asking questions.

Initially they had only heard the “Curiosity killed the cat”-half of the proverb from somewhere they don’t recall. The informant first saw the full proverb from a Tumblr post detailing the entire saying.

They use the second half of the saying often to correct people who only say the first half. They believe that the saying, when incomplete, makes people turn away from their curiosity. But this conflicts with the proverb as a whole. In its entirety, the proverb says that “seeking knowledge isn’t a bad thing. When you pursue it, it does more for you than fear itself.”


“Curiosity killed the cat,” is a proverb used more frequently than “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” At that point, I start to wonder if they could be counted as separate proverbs. I feel that there are instances in which both arguments are valid. Saying just the first part of it can act as a proper warning, especially for children who could end up in dangerous situations or exploring inappropriate content. But for people who are afraid to make explorations, I think the second half of the saying can do a lot to help them by encouraging them to pursue any interests.

Curiosity Buried The Man

Context: S is a Peruvian man in his early 60s. S spent around the first 13 years living inside of Peru before moving to Germany where he lived until his late 20s when he moved to California. Although having lived in California for most of his life now, he still has a close connection to Peru and Germany through his family. This piece was collected during a phone call.

Intv: “Can you think of any stories that came from somewhere local?”

S: “There was this one story about a guy who was buried alive.”

Intv: “Oh my gosh, like someone who you knew?”

S: “Not me personally, and I’m not really sure, I used to think it was someone my family knew, but I can’t be sure. Anyways, There was this guy, who was terrified of being buried alive.”

Intv: “I mean, I would be scared too if it had happened to me.” 

S: “Oh yes, but for him, it just was all he thought about, he would wake up in the middle of the night because of nightmares about it. One day he decided he couldn’t take it anymore, and he went to his family with a series of rules and tests to make sure if he died, that he was dead. They were supposed to use a mirror to see if he was breathing, wait three days, and a number of different things. So of course all of his family promised him that they would do it, and make sure he was dead. But the man keeps wondering, what if, what if, so he decides to test it and fakes his death, with the plan to reveal himself before being buried. However, and this is what I can’t remember so well, but something happens, I believe the coffin lid closes on his head and knocks him out, and he ends up buried alive.”

Analysis: Being buried alive is likely something that everyone fears, making this story immediately relatable. I think that’s intentional as it’s trying to convey an important message, something that is behind a large number of folklore tales, like how the boy who cried wolf teaches one not to fib and lie. This story, however, is more like a long version of the phrase “curiosity killed the cat.” It’s a cautionary tale regarding unhealthy obsessive pursuits.