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or catspaw

[kats-paw] /ˈkætsˌpɔ/
a person used to serve the purposes of another; tool.
  1. a hitch made in the bight of a rope so that two eyes are formed to hold the hook of one block of a tackle.
  2. a light breeze that ruffles the surface of the water over a comparatively small area.
  3. the small area ruffled by such a breeze.
Origin of cat's-paw
First recorded in 1650-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for catspaw
Historical Examples
  • Maman and Caughnega have been making a catspaw of you to do their dirty work.

    Rodney, the Ranger John V. Lane
  • What astonished me most, however, was the facility with which the Baron made a catspaw of him.


    Henry Seton Merriman
  • She was commiserated as a catspaw, and sneered at as a dupe.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • Was this little alien waif to be made a catspaw for her revenge?

    Flamsted quarries Mary E. Waller
  • catspaw: To apply the purchase or tackle to the fall of another.

    The Gunner's Examiner Harold E. Cloke
  • catspaw told me that the notary has not a rag of paper to prove his noble descent by.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
  • The justice was on the point of yielding, when Mr. catspaw approached the group.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
  • They were followed by Mr. catspaw, who had gone round by Tissaret.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
  • "He does not think so," said Mr. catspaw, with a forced smile.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
  • Messrs. Skinner and catspaw looked at each other and smiled.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
British Dictionary definitions for catspaw


a person used by another as a tool; dupe
(nautical) a hitch in the form of two loops, or eyes, in the bight of a line, used for attaching it to a hook
a pattern of ripples on the surface of water caused by a light wind
Word Origin
(sense 1) C18: so called from the tale of the monkey who used a cat's paw to draw chestnuts out of a fire
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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