猫を被る (ねこをかぶる, neko wo kaburu) is a Japanese idiom that literally means “wear a cat”. It figuratively indicates the act of putting up a façade and pretending to be nicer than usual. One of the most common examples of “wearing a cat” is when a chatty person pretends to be quiet and reserved when she/he meets someone for the first time. Another example is when you date someone and act kind and cool (and you show your true colours once you’re in a relationship). This word is often used to describe ぶりっこ (burikko), i.e. girls who act cute and coy around guys.
猫を被る consists of the two words “猫” (neko) and “被る” (kaburu) with a particle “を” (wo) between them. The first word means “cat“, and it is also written in either hiragana “ねこ” or katakana “ネコ“. The second word 被る means “wear” or “put on“. Therefore, 猫を被る literally means “wear a cat”, and it figuratively describes someone who hides their real personality. The rationale behind the expression is that a cat appears to be very cute, but in fact, can be very aggressive.
Usually I am very talkative, but today I behaved quite, hiding my real personality.
She is always talking a lot of sh*t, but when she is with her boyfriend, she pretends to be reserved.
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Synonyms and Related Words
Synonyms: 良い子ぶる (pretend to be a good person; act obsequiously)
Synonyms in English: hide one’s true colours, hide oneself, put up a façade
Related words and phrases: 猫 (cat), 被る (wear, put on)