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cat's-paw

or cats·paw

[ kats-paw ]
/ ˈkætsˌpɔ /
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noun

a person used to serve the purposes of another; tool.
Nautical.
  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.

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Origin of cat's-paw

First recorded in 1650–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for cat's-paw

British Dictionary definitions for cat's-paw

cat's-paw

noun

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 for cat's-paw

(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

Idioms and Phrases with cat's-paw

cat's paw

A dupe or tool for another, a sucker, as in You always try to make a cat's paw of me, but I refuse to do any more of your work. This term alludes to a very old tale about a monkey that persuades a cat to pull chestnuts out of the fire so as to avoid burning its own paws. The story dates from the 16th century and versions of it (some with a dog) exist in many languages.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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