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Growing up in the 80s, I ended up hearing/using this phrase a lot whenever I wanted to express that there was more than one way to do something: "there's more than one way to skin a cat."

I have recently been in situations where I need to express the same thing, but am realizing that the phrase is actually quite grotesque. Is there a well-known euphemism to express the same thing - that there is more than one way to get something done?

This questions is slightly related, but only asks for the origins: Origin of the phrase, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

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I suspect that “there are more ways to kill a dog than hanging” will also be deemed unacceptable :) –  coleopterist Nov 21 '12 at 17:46
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Someone who's first language is not english once quoted it as "there's more than one way to peel a cat". :-) –  Les Nov 21 '12 at 18:00
    
I'm wondering if there actually IS more than one way to skin a cat. How many ways could there be? –  user30619 Nov 22 '12 at 1:04
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Not the same expression at all, but I heard a rather satisfying alternative to "kill two birds with one stone": "light two candles with one flame." –  JAM Nov 22 '12 at 3:06
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Disclaimer: I am a cat lover. Now: I've taken to using a variation on the dermis-and-feline-flaying locution. I say, "There's more than one way to swing a dead cat!" A book published a number of years ago now was titled (I think) "101 Uses for a Dead Cat"? I think that book kind of stimulated my thinking in this regard. By the way, my favorite way to swing a dead cat is by its tail. What's your fave? –  rhetorician May 22 '13 at 16:41

12 Answers 12

up vote 20 down vote accepted

If you don't like the graphic reference to feline taxidermy, you can substitute just about any verb-noun pair to get your point across, so long as your audience can imagine more than one way to do it. These aren't common idioms by any means (some of them will register a tiny number of hits in a Google book search, and others won't), but one could say:

There's more than one way to bake a cake...
There's more than one way to cook an egg...
There's more than one way to peel an orange...
There's more than one way to make a bed...
There's more than one way to catch a rabbit...
There's more than one way to shear a sheep...
There's more than one way to shoe a horse...
There's more than one way to shine a penny...
There's more than one way to knit a sweater...
There's more than one way to dive into a pool...
There's more than one way to shake a carbuncle
...1


1 That last one may sound a bit odd, but I actually found it in a book.

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Thanks, I've heard of some of these, and I'm sure that anyone I'm talking to might have as well, so marking this as the right answer. Do you know if any of these are more popular than the rest? –  Suman Nov 21 '12 at 19:24
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Go for the most generic/meta: "there's more than one way to verb a noun." –  Aesin Nov 21 '12 at 20:40
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Who shines their pennies? –  Adam Robinson Nov 22 '12 at 0:42
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@AdamRobinson: Coin collectors, maybe? (BTW, who skins their cats?) :^) –  J.R. Nov 22 '12 at 2:39
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@naught101: I think jackweirdy was adding dive to your list of exceptions that don't work with cat. I was going to add knit to that list, too, but then I thought better of it. But I would like to add shoe to that list. (Then again, maybe I'm wrong about that, too.) –  J.R. Nov 23 '12 at 10:15

Dermis and feline can be divorced by manifold methods.

Give it time; it'll catch on.

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aw, c'mon downvoter! That's funny! –  Kristina Lopez Nov 21 '12 at 18:46
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He wanted a euphemism. –  tylerharms Nov 21 '12 at 18:49
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@Suman I'm sure that's what most people thought they first time they heard the one about fecal matter and rotatory impellers. –  Dan Neely Nov 21 '12 at 20:52
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@Kristina Lopez: But it's not an answer in any meaningful sense. I expect a mod will soon convert this one to a comment, after which I might upvote it myself. –  FumbleFingers Nov 21 '12 at 21:52
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@FumbleFingers: It takes the edge off the original expression, euphemistically. It's the same relationship between the euphemism "When the S%$# hits the fan" and the counter-euphemism "When the excrement hits the rotatory impellers." –  tylerharms Nov 21 '12 at 22:21

Considering that the OP is in the IT industry, the following suggestion from Wiktionary might be pertinent:

TIMTOWTDI
(Internet) There is more than one way to do it (a motto of the Perl programming language).

The saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way", might also work in the right context.

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Nice! But like you said, it probably only makes sense in the IT industry, and may not be known by people who haven't touched Perl. This is a good one though. :) –  Suman Nov 21 '12 at 17:57
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@Suman. It's a perfectly normal English sentence, and makes sense in any context. It might be an idiom to Perl programmers only, but it's understandable by anyone. –  TRiG Nov 21 '12 at 19:22
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Ah right, sorry. "There is more than one way to do it" makes perfect sense, TIMTOWDI doesn't. I was thinking of the latter when I posted the comment. –  Suman Nov 21 '12 at 19:26
    
The Perl community commonly abbreviates the phrase to TIMTOWDI, but I've never seen the abbreviation used in the wild. Shame, though, because it is succinct and pronounceable and the base phrase is used widely. –  RBerteig Nov 21 '12 at 21:31

"I have more than one trick up my sleeve"

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Now that is an answer! As with my irons in the fire and @Autoresponder's strings to one's bow, though, they all tend to imply you already have an alternative ready to deploy. Whereas OP's version often means we can figure out another way to solve this problem. –  FumbleFingers Nov 21 '12 at 21:55
    
@FumbleFingers, I totally agree but more often than not, for me at least, that other trick up my sleeve is more wishful thinking than actionable plan! lol! –  Kristina Lopez Nov 21 '12 at 21:58

"There are other fish in the sea" is a possibility. Even though the implication may be that of a relationship, it doesn't have to be.

You could also stick with the feline reference with:

There's more than one way to scare a cat.

Also:

There's more than one way to eat a pie.
There's more than one way to crack an egg.
There's more than one way to beat an egg.

Of course, you could always fall back on the always witty:

That's not the only way.
There's more than one way to do that.
There's a better way.

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OR - just "or"* (followed by one or more alternative methods of solving the problem! :) –  FumbleFingers Nov 21 '12 at 22:35

If you want to say you're prepared/armed with multiple options,the phrase "to have many strings to one's bow" is relevant. It refers to a state of 'being prepared with back-up plans to deal with contingencies.'

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Slightly less gruesome, but still related, is the proverb "There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream."

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I've never heard that. ^_^ –  James K Nov 22 '12 at 15:53

There are different ways to brew your coffee.

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Re: Is there a well-known euphemism to express the same thing - that there is more than one way to get something done?

Why yes, namely "There is more than one way to get something done."

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More than one road to Timbuktu

Some of the other suggestions on here have been a bit questionable in that they suggest a misunderstanding of the nuance of usage of the idioms proffered. Be careful if you are a non-native speaker that you are understanding things correctly before submitting, or to put it another way, as my old English teacher used to say, "engage brain before opening mouth".

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Your teacher capitalized every single word? In speech? I applaud his dedication. Seriously though, you don't even know who on this page is a native speaker and who isn't. In fact I'm not sure I am seeing a single non-native speaker here, certainly not among the top answers. More to the point though, native speakers misuse idioms, too. All the time. (They are in fact prone to making certain horrible mistakes no non-native speaker ever would. But I digress.) –  RegDwigнt Jul 26 '13 at 10:51

there is more than one way to tie a shoelace...

I like this, but it is only really relevant if the 'outcome' that is being referred to is the same, in this case, "a tied shoelace".

In the case of the "skin a cat" phrase, the manner in which the cat gets skinned is dependent upon the reason for skinning the cat - if the intention is to have an intact skin for taxidermy, then the method employed might be different than if the intention is to have a 'skinned cat', in which case one isn't really to worried about how intact the skin is following the skinning process.

you could substitute 'tie a shoelace' for 'tie a knot' in this case I suppose...

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