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In software engineering I often see the expression "no kitty killed".

What does it mean? A web search makes me think it simply means "no curious cat killed." I.e., our software experiment didn't result in file loss, etc.

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    Probably connected to this Internet meme en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 22 at 13:03
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    Related to "No animals were harmed in making this film"? Commented May 22 at 13:34
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    I would think this question is off-topic on those sites you mentioned. This is the right place, you're asking about an idiom/fixed/typical phrase within a specific field of work.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 22 at 13:37
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    But as it's not an idiom (few examples of use on the internet, as the answer says) and apparently isn't in any reference work, not a standard expression, and off topic. Commented May 22 at 14:08
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    As a person who works in tech, I think @YosefBaskin is closer to the correct answer. "Euphemism for a bad result" just seems to me like it's not quite specific enough. I think it would be closer to the phrase, "No harm, no foul." The process was painless. That's a very small distinction I'm making but I'm not so sure it's seen as "catastrophic" or "irrevocable." It's more like saying "nothing went wrong" than saying "nothing horrible happened." Running into traffic on my way to work is a "bad" result in terms of the getting-to-work process, but not a horrible or catastrophic one.
    – Raydot
    Commented May 22 at 23:18

1 Answer 1

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Given the small number of results coming up for the phrase, "no kitty killed" and "no kitten killed" seem like nonce usages by one or a small number of users, rather than an established idiom. It appears to mean that nothing especially bad happened.

In Google, "no kitty killed" only turns up the two results linked in the question. "No kitten killed" turns up one string repeated on five different sites:

The PDF file can be downloaded from here and it is not harmful. No shellcodes, no exploits, no kitten killed. In summary, you can open it with no fear, but do it with a version of Adobe Reader prior to XI ;) (Arsenal).

Compare that to the Server Fault result:

[Under "Pros"] no kitty killed, no risk to crash my desktop by mixing testing/experimental stuff

The two results you link and the usage here seem to suggest a catastrophic or irrevocable event. "No kitty killed" is like saying "Nobody died as a result of running this code or opening this file." It's supposed to be reassuring with a touch of humor. It could be an indirect allusion to Schroedinger's cat, a thought experiment that involves the possible death of a cat.

I found one other result with "no kitten was killed" on StackOverflow:

What would be a better way of doing this? I appreciate you taking the time to answer, but you should know that hearing a dogmatic answer without an alternative solution is also hard, specially when I've done what you say I shouldn't do and no kitten was killed. :)

So that seems to confirm that these phrases are euphemisms for a bad result.

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  • So perhaps no implied connection to "curiosity killed the cat" after all. Commented May 22 at 13:33
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    Lots of hits for: "no kitties were harmed" and for "no kitties were hurt”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 22 at 13:41
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    Try Googling the plural form "no kitties were killed" or "No kittens...”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 22 at 13:44
  • OK, so we can predict that in fifty years, if this phase is still in use, the only meaning it will have is "nothing bad happened," having long ago shed its various quirky origins. Commented May 22 at 14:37

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