stalking horse

[ staw-king hawrs ]
See synonyms for stalking horse on
  1. a horse, or a figure of a horse, behind which a hunter hides in stalking game.

  2. anything put forward to mask plans or efforts; pretext.

  1. a political candidate used to conceal the candidacy of a more important figure or to draw votes from and cause the defeat of a rival.

Origin of stalking horse

First recorded in 1510–20
  • Also stalk·ing-horse .

Words Nearby stalking horse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use stalking horse in a sentence

  • It was the stalking horse behind which Offenbach hunted the follies of the day and bagged the absurdities of the hour.

  • For the same reason the passions are the main theme of poets and the stalking horse of actors.

  • "For my dough they've given up trying to find her and are using you for a stalking horse," he added with fiendish accuracy.

    Modus Vivendi | Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Better never profess than make profession a stalking horse to sin, deceit, the devil, and hell.'

    Bunyan | James Anthony Froude

British Dictionary definitions for stalking-horse


  1. a horse or an imitation one used by a hunter to hide behind while stalking his quarry

  2. something serving as a means of concealing plans; pretext

  1. a candidate put forward by one group to divide the opposition or mask the candidacy of another person for whom the stalking-horse would then withdraw

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