a horse, or a figure of a horse, behind which a hunter hides in stalking game.
anything put forward to mask plans or efforts; pretext.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stalking-horse

Historical Examples of stalking-horse

  • Incredible that he should have chosen Kitty for his stalking-horse—yet whom else had there been to choose?

    The Story of Louie

    Oliver Onions

  • For many years we have been the butt of the Tibetans, and China their stalking-horse.

  • That revolt of Saint-Antoine got up by traitor Royalists for a stalking-horse?

    The French Revolution

    Thomas Carlyle

  • The claim of kindred cannot for ever be the stalking-horse for injustice.'

    The Transvaal from Within

    J. P. Fitzpatrick

  • Though she used him as a stalking-horse, he, after all, was playing with her as a cat plays with a mouse.

    Zuleika Dobson

    Max Beerbohm

British Dictionary definitions for stalking-horse



a horse or an imitation one used by a hunter to hide behind while stalking his quarry
something serving as a means of concealing plans; pretext
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