cat-o'-nine-tails

[ kat-uh-nahyn-teylz ]
/ ˌkæt əˈnaɪnˌteɪlz /

noun, plural cat-o'-nine-tails.

a whip, usually having nine knotted lines or cords fastened to a handle, used for flogging.

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Origin of cat-o'-nine-tails

First recorded in 1685–95; so called in allusion to a cat's scratches
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

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

cat-o'-nine-tails

noun plural -tails

a rope whip consisting of nine knotted thongs, used formerly to flog prisonersOften 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