Word of the Day

Monday, August 11, 2014

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.
Quotes:
Intrigue followed her wherever she went, because more powerful personalities wanted her for a cat's-paw. Once queen she might have proven a difficult cat's-paw, however.
-- Jonathan Schneer, The Thames, 2005
I found out later what he'd done -- used me for a cat's-paw to keep this company I'd bought from selling out to someone else and spoiling another deal he had on the fire.
-- Cameron Hawley, "Fast Millions from East Deals" (excerpt from Cash McCall), Life, Vol. 39, No.1, 1955
Origin:
Cat's-paw finds its origin in a fable called "The Monkey and the Cat" in which a monkey uses a cat's paw to draw chestnuts out of a fire. The term entered English in the mid-1600s.
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