To Pace Around Hot Porridge Like a Cat

Two cats sitting on concrete.

å gå som katta rundt den varme grauten (Norwegian)

To pace around hot porridge like a cat (English)

Today’s idiom comes from Scandinavia. In fact, even though the version we are featuring is in Norwegian, there is a Finnish version, as well as a Swedish version. 

Norwegians are known for having creative ways of describing everyday situations, and this is no exception. The phrase “to pace around hot porridge like a cat” is used to describe someone who has something to say but is avoiding saying it, perhaps because it is too embarrassing or controversial. A rough English equivalent could be to avoid talking about the elephant in the room.

However, in Norway, the idiom implies that the speaker actually wants to address the topic at hand but there is something preventing him from doing that. So saying that someone is pacing around hot porridge like a cat would be most appropriately used, for example, for a shy person who is about to ask someone else on a date. In this instance, a closer English equivalent would be to beat around the bush.