Is the phrase, from ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ by Alexander Baron

having one's kitten in one's pocket

a proverb or common slang? How common is this expression? What exactly does it mean and how can this phrase be used?

  • Still the question remains. Whether the given phrase is a valid english proverb or just a slang. – Archna Sharma Nov 6 '14 at 6:33
  • It very simply IS NOT a proverb, NOR is it slang. It is, simply, not a common phrase. it is literally just a sentence from a book. – Fattie Nov 6 '14 at 8:46
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    @JoeBlow unless it has escaped your attention, we do have many non-native speakers visiting the site. How the hell are they supposed to know if there's a typo, or if something is an idiom, a figure of speech, a metaphor or whatever. It could very well be a military slang term used in that epoch which has subsequently died, a dinosaur relic if you wish. BTW talking of typos...you left one in. – Mari-Lou A Nov 6 '14 at 9:00
  • A proverb basically gives a lesson -- it somehow tells you that "Condition A leads to result B". There is no such relationship expressed in the above-quoted phrase. – Hot Licks Mar 16 '17 at 11:56

From how360.org:

This is an extract from ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ by Alexander Baron:

Corporal Turnbull was a young man, but he was not a man to be trifled with. He had come back from Dunkirk with all his equipment correct and accounted for and his kitten in his pocket.

Could mean a number of things, depending on how you interpret the novel. This is neither proverb nor slang. It is literary style.

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    Almost certainly, "kitten" is slang (probably military slang) for something. From the context I would guess it referred to a small handgun. – Hot Licks Mar 16 '17 at 11:59

Having kitten in pocket means the person is merciful. If you are able to control yourself even if there is a kitten in your pocket with her nails scratching you,it means you can tolerate very much. Hence kitten in pocket is used here to describe his ability to control his anger, his toughness.

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