cat's paw

cat's-paw

[kats-paw]
noun
1.
a person used to serve the purposes of another; tool.
2.
Nautical.
a.
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.
b.
a light breeze that ruffles the surface of the water over a comparatively small area.
c.
the small area ruffled by such a breeze.
Also, catspaw.


Origin:
1650–60

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cat's-paw
 
n
1.  a person used by another as a tool; dupe
2.  nautical a hitch in the form of two loops, or eyes, in the bight of a line, used for attaching it to a hook
3.  a pattern of ripples on the surface of water caused by a light wind
 
[(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 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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