[ kat-uh-nahyn-teylz ]
See synonyms for cat-o'-nine-tails on
noun,plural cat-o'-nine-tails.
  1. a whip, usually having nine knotted lines or cords fastened to a handle, used for flogging.

Origin of cat-o'-nine-tails

First recorded in 1685–95; so called in allusion to a cat's scratches

Words Nearby cat-o'-nine-tails Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use cat-o'-nine-tails in a sentence

  • The old gentleman was clad in clerical black, with his cat-o-nine tails thrust into his girdle like a sword.

    The Hero of the People | Alexandre Dumas
  • This law meant the use of the cat-o-nine tails as a regular punishment, but did not prohibit blows to enforce immediate obedience.

    Pike & Cutlass | George Gibbs
  • Pity we left the cat-o-nine-tails out on the boat, said the second man.

    Peter Cotterell's Treasure | Rupert Sargent Holland
  • You have forgotten it; but in my beardless days, I offended Mr. Athelstone in a way that deserved a cat-o-nine-tails.

  • As soon as ever I uncovered myself, they laid on to my back with a rope made into a cat-o-nine-tails.

British Dictionary definitions for cat-o'-nine-tails


nounplural -tails
  1. a rope whip consisting of nine knotted thongs, used formerly to flog prisoners: Often shortened to: cat

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