or cats·paw



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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catspaw

Historical Examples of catspaw

  • 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

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 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