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Cat's-paw   Listen
noun
Cat's-paw  n.  
1.
(Naut.)
(a)
A light transitory air which ruffles the surface of the water during a calm, or the ripples made by such a puff of air.
(b)
A particular hitch or turn in the bight of a rope, into which a tackle may be hooked.
2.
A dupe; a tool; one who, or that which, is used by another as an instrument to a accomplish his purposes. Note: In this sense the term refers to the fable of the monkey using the cat's paw to draw the roasting chestnuts out of the fire.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Cat's-paw" Quotes from Famous Books



... lying on the water in a state of compelled inaction, while his friends were being plundered, and perhaps murdered by a gang of miscreants before his eyes! How eagerly and repeatedly did he scan the horizon for the coming breeze! How did Hope raise her head at the slightest cat's-paw that ruffled the surface of the glassy waters! Three successive gales of wind are bad enough; but three gales blowing hard enough to blow the devil's horns off are infinitely preferable to one idle, ...
— Newton Forster • Frederick Marryat

... it was the island of Sanguir. A current must have set us towards it, for we supposed that we were some distance off. We at once put about, when the wind dropped and we lay perfectly becalmed on the mirror-like deep. I could not perceive the slightest swell, nor did even a cat's-paw play over the surface. I threw some chips into the water, and when I looked some hours afterwards there they were, floating like little boats alongside. The smoke from the galley-fire curled upwards in a thin blue wreath, growing thinner and thinner until it became invisible far over ...
— The Mate of the Lily - Notes from Harry Musgrave's Log Book • W. H. G. Kingston

... grumbled something about 'd——d women,' and King Philip ordered his sister to bed. They got her out of the room after a painful scene, and fell to wrangling again, trying to screw some resolution into the white prince whom they all intended to use as a cat's-paw. About eight o'clock in the morning—they still at it—came a shatter of hoofs in the courtyard, which made Count John jump in his skin. A herald ...
— The Life and Death of Richard Yea-and-Nay • Maurice Hewlett

... wonderfully conceived plans for vengeance, and in the spirit which has evolved and kept them alive through all these years. Then, on the other hand, I look at home, and I ask myself whether you do not make what they would call over here a cat's-paw ...
— The Great Prince Shan • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... truth," she asserted. "Nikasti is not out to steal for others. He is playing the same game as all of us, only he is playing it for his own hand. Mr. Fischer has brought him here for some purpose of his own, without a doubt, but I am quite sure that Nikasti never meant to be any one's cat's-paw." ...
— The Pawns Count • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... as a prod I could have made him jump through hoops. It wasn't necessary. As soon as I showed him the different blueprints and explained the possibilities he understood. If anything, he was more eager than I was to find out who was using his administration as a cat's-paw. By silent ...
— The Misplaced Battleship • Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

... would get a good pitcher of water without any splash upon his clothes. So she stood behind a little bush, pretending not to be at all concerned, but amused at having her work done for her. But Pet was too sharp to play cat's-paw ...
— Mary Anerley • R. D. Blackmore

... rage that Richard was dumb. Had he been but a cat's-paw after all? Heaven forbid! He sat irresolute for an instant, and then turned suddenly and cantered back to Gertrude's gate. Here he stopped again; but after a short pause he went in over the gravel with a fast-beating heart. ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 117, July, 1867. • Various

... down at Red Wing. They're great cronies—always together. I expect he's at the bottom of all the black nigger's perversity, though he always seems as smooth and respectful as you please. He's a deep one. I 'llow he does all the scheming, and just makes Nimbus a cat's-paw to do his work. I don't know much about him, though. He hardly ever talks ...
— Bricks Without Straw • Albion W. Tourgee

... Notwithstanding the polite tone which Mr Bellamy had cunningly adopted in placing his mission before him, even he, the ignorant and obtuse Brammel, could not fail to see that he had been made the tool, the cat's-paw in a business from which his partners shrank. Now, had the young man been as full of courage as he was of vulgar conceit, he might, I verily believe, have turned his hatred, and his knowledge of affairs, to very good account. Lacking the spirit of the smallest animal ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXIX. January, 1844. Vol. LV. • Various

... but that Palmerston could not. This was the diplomatic tradition, especially held by the Russian diplomats. Possibly it was sound, but it helped in no way the education of a private secretary. The cat's-paw theory offered no safer clue, than the frank, old-fashioned, honest theory of villainy. Neither the one nor the other ...
— The Education of Henry Adams • Henry Adams

... from the very first what she was about, what she meant to do. Directly she mentioned Dion Leith to me and asked me to invite him to the Embassy and be kind to him I understood. But I didn't know Dion Leith then. If I had thoroughly known him I should never have been a willing cat's-paw in a very ugly game. But once I had begun—I took them both for a yachting trip—I did not know how to get out of it all. On that yachting trip—I realized how that man was suffering and what he was. I have never before known a man capable of ...
— In the Wilderness • Robert Hichens

... night of the attack, it now appeared that Loquia had lost many men killed; others who were wounded dropped on the way, and died on the route through Belinian. This loss so enraged Loquia (who considered that he had been only used as a cat's-paw), that he was determined not to return home empty-handed. He therefore revenged himself upon his allies, and captured about 2,000 head of cattle from Belinian, with which he returned to his ...
— Ismailia • Samuel W. Baker

... elaborate device which followed. Oxford probably objected to the misuse of his name, as the fiction which made him responsible was afterwards dropped. Pope found, or thought that he had found, on the next occasion, a more convenient cat's-paw. Curll, it could not be doubted, would snatch at any chance of publishing more correspondence; and, as Pope was anxious to have his letters stolen and Curll was ready to steal, the one thing necessary ...
— Alexander Pope - English Men of Letters Series • Leslie Stephen

... this face," said Mrs. Undercliff, ignoring the interruption, "and yet something simple. I think him more likely to be a cat's-paw than a felon." Having delivered this with a certain modest dignity, she laid the profile ...
— Foul Play • Charles Reade

... said, "I have no wish to stand in your way. But—I don't propose to be a cat's-paw. You may sit in Bubbles's room if you like, but I won't have you on your hands and knees at the studio door listening at the key-hole. That ...
— The Penalty • Gouverneur Morris

... good deal disgusted these Soltikofs and Russian Chief Officers;—who are not so stupid as Austria supposes. Austria's steady wish is, 'Let them do their function of cat's-paw for us; we are here to eat the chestnuts; not, if we can help it, to burn our own poor fingers for them!' After every Campaign hitherto, Austria has been in use to raise eager accusations at Petersburg; ...
— History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. XIX. (of XXI.) • Thomas Carlyle

... while other and worthier women were sweltering three in a stuffy box below, it had cost but a smile. The captain had repented him of his magnanimity before the lights of Honolulu faded out astern. The General began to realize that he had been made a cat's-paw of and, his amour propre being wounded, he had essayed for a day or two majestic dignity of mien that became comical when complicated with the qualms of seasickness. There was even noticeable aversion on part of some of the officers of the Dudes who, having made the journey from "the Bay" to Honolulu ...
— Found in the Philippines - The Story of a Woman's Letters • Charles King

... blown me and Jonadab over with a cat's-paw. We went on our beam ends, so's to speak. A relation of Peter T.'s; why, if he'd been twice the panorama he was we'd have let him in when he said that. Loud clothes, we figgered, must run in the family. We remembered how Peter was dressed the first ...
— Cape Cod Stories - The Old Home House • Joseph C. Lincoln

... sea; and Uncle Johnnie, accustomed to read the sky like a book, hurried as he seldom did to get the small boat under way. No one could have driven her faster than he drove her, and the pace satisfied even his uneasy mind. The "cat's-paw" had stiffened to a bitter blast behind him, and long before the boat reached the beach, it was difficult enough to look to windward. Hauling up the boat, he gave the familiar call which his wife knew so well; but no answer came to greet him. Following ...
— Labrador Days - Tales of the Sea Toilers • Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

... happened. Years later the Martian Cabal was exposed, and the leading plotters—the traitors—were punished. But that was not till later, and the court's irreversible decree against me had been carried out. I, the unsuspecting messenger, the loyal, eager dupe, was made the cat's-paw. I was put on an old, condemned freighter, with food and supplies supposed to last me a lifetime, but with no power capsules and no means of steering the ship. I was set adrift in a derelict on a lonely orbit of exile around the ...
— In the Orbit of Saturn • Roman Frederick Starzl

... to your rejoicing...I am either a knave or a fool—a knave if I joined with Brother Marshman; but if, as those gentlemen say, and as you seem to agree with them, I was only led as he pleased, and was a mere cat's-paw, then of course I am a fool. In either way your thoughts are not very high as it respects me. I do not wonder that Jonathan should express himself unguardedly; his family connection with Mr. Pearce sufficiently accounts for ...
— The Life of William Carey • George Smith

... trouble, he found him at a gaming-table, inclined to appear sceptical as to the story that Levake had killed an unoffending brakeman. When Scott repeated Stanley's demand that Levake be arrested, the sheriff slammed down his cards and declared he would not be made a cat's-paw for any man; that the brakeman, according to accounts reaching him, had been killed in a fair fight and he would hear no more of it. Then, as if his game had been unreasonably interfered with and his peace of mind injured, he rose from the table to ...
— The Mountain Divide • Frank H. Spearman

... joke this attempt to stir my blood. That you are desirous of getting rid of your rival, I can very well comprehend, and that, because you might have some difficulty in supplanting the son, you endeavor to make a cat's-paw of the father, I can also understand—I am even delighted to find that you are master of such excellent qualifications in the way of roguery. Only, friend Worm, pray don't make me, too, the butt of your knavery. ...
— The Works of Frederich Schiller in English • Frederich Schiller

... — N. instrumentality; aid &c 707; subservience, subserviency; mediation, intervention, medium, intermedium^, vehicle, hand; agency &c 170. minister, handmaid; midwife, accoucheur [Fr.], accoucheuse [Fr.], obstetrician; gobetween; cat's-paw; stepping-stone. opener &c 260; key; master key, passkey, latchkey; open sesame; passport, passe-partout, safe-conduct, password. instrument &c 633; expedient &c (plan) 626; means &c 632. V. subserve, minister, mediate, intervene; be instrumental &c adj.; pander to; officiate; ...
— Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases: Body • Roget

... half-breed were to be sacrificed when a few words from Bill Talpers might save him, so much the worse for Jim McFann! The affairs of Bill Talpers were to be considered first of all, and there was no need of being too solicitous over the welfare of any mere cat's-paw like the half-breed. ...
— Mystery Ranch • Arthur Chapman

... hide things if she liked in the stump of an old oak-tree or under a bit of tiresome heather in the "forest primeval?" After all, Betty had not said the thing was wood; but when Sibyl had asked her she had said, "Have it so if you like." Oh! Sibyl felt just now that she had been made a sort of cat's-paw, and that she did not like Fanny Crawford ...
— Betty Vivian - A Story of Haddo Court School • L. T. Meade

... but unendurable banishment. He was a vehement High Churchman, and looked upon the existing penal proscription under which the Catholics lay as not merely desirable, but indispensable. At the same time it would be quite untrue to suppose, as is sometimes done, that he merely made a cat's-paw of Irish politics in order to bring himself back into public notice. He was a man of intense and even passionate sense of justice, and the state of affairs in the Ireland of his day, the tyranny and political dishonesty which stalked in high places, the degradation ...
— The Story Of Ireland • Emily Lawless

... important—Mrs. Fisher addressed Mrs. Wilkins directly. She was sixty-five, and cared very little what sorts of women she happened to be with for a month, but if the women were to be mixed with men it was a different proposition altogether. She was not going to be made a cat's-paw of. She had not come out there to sanction by her presence what used in her day to be called fast behaviour. Nothing had been said at the interview in London about men; if there had been she would have ...
— The Enchanted April • Elizabeth von Arnim

... to a pole, which marked a rock, so as to prevent being carried back by the reflux. Some of the passengers turned in below; some stretched themselves on deck; some walked about, smoking cigars. I kept the deck all night. Once there was a little cat's-paw of a breeze, whereupon we untied ourselves from the pole; but it almost immediately died away, and we were compelled to make fast again. At about two o'clock, up rose the morning star, a round, red, fiery ball, very comparable ...
— Passages From The American Notebooks, Volume 1 • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... belong to the Allies, and they won't get a cent of it." He was getting more angry as he proceeded in his harangue. "Moreover," he continued, "our weak administration can't use me to help it out of the hole it has foolishly stumbled into, or make America the cat's-paw to pull British chestnuts out of the fire. You ought to be ashamed, Miss Burrows, to lend yourself to such unpatriotic methods ...
— Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls • Edith Van Dyne (AKA L. Frank Baum)

... was, that at the end of three days,—though he was, no doubt, candidate for the borough of Percycross, and in that capacity a great man in Percycross,—he did not seem to himself to be so great as he had been when he made the journey down from London. There was a certain feeling that he was a cat's-paw, brought there for certain objects which were not his objects,—because they wanted money, and some one who would be fool enough to fight a losing battle! He did not reap all that meed of personal admiration for his eloquence which ...
— Ralph the Heir • Anthony Trollope

... their rescue. The Allies were beaten. It was the British who got Belgium into trouble; the British who were responsible for the idleness, the penury, the hunger and the suffering in Belgium. The British had used Belgium as a cat's-paw; then they had deserted her. But Belgians remained mostly unconvinced. They were making war with mind and spirit, if not ...
— My Year of the War • Frederick Palmer

... William H. Langdon, present head of the family, to the United States Senate, though the ultimate action of the Legislature had been really brought about by a lifelong friend of Colonel Langdon, the senior Senator from the State, James Stevens, who had not hesitated to flatter Norton and use him as a cat's-paw. This use the Hon. Charles Norton seemed to consider an honor of large proportions. Not every first-term Congressman can hope for intimacy with a Senator. Norton believed that his work for Langdon would win him the family's gratitude and thus further ...
— A Gentleman from Mississippi • Thomas A. Wise

... to make an example of him and to interdict the Parliament. In short, the exercise of power had made the woman mad. De Retz reflected. If the queen designed to punish him, she should have something to punish him for. He was not the man to be made a cat's-paw of. ...
— Historical Tales, Vol. 6 (of 15) - The Romance of Reality. French. • Charles Morris

... it was sometimes rather a relief to get away to some sheltered corner and look out over the Sound. The twilight shades and colours were beautiful in a sad sort of way, but the stillness was awful. Whenever the wind fell light new ice would form which seemed to crack and be churned up with every cat's-paw of wind. The currents and tidal streams would slowly carry these pancakes of ice up and down the Strait until the weather was calm enough and cold enough to cement them together till they formed floes, which in their turn froze fast into great white icefields strong enough to ...
— South with Scott • Edward R. G. R. Evans

... wicked and designing men. There is a slight difference of opinion on this. We think he, being ardently attached to the hope of a second term, in the concrete, was duped by men who hate liberty every way. He is the cat's-paw. By much dragging of chestnuts from the fire for others to eat, his claws are burnt off to the gristle, and he is thrown aside as unfit for further use. As the fool said of King Lear, when his daughters had turned him out of ...
— Modern Eloquence: Vol II, After-Dinner Speeches E-O • Various

... Mr. Welch replied to the lawyer's attack, pronouncing him to be "destitute of delicacy, decency, good manners, sound judgment, honesty, manhood, and humanity; a poltroon, a cat's-paw, the infamous tool of a party, a partisan, a political weathercock, and ...
— The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (The Physician and Poet not the Jurist)

... likewise begged that he would favour me with an answer, to say when he would please to present it, as I wished to accompany him, agreeable to the instructions of the meeting. I received a very laconic answer from the Baronet, saying, that "he did not choose to be made a cat's-paw of, neither would he insult the Prince Regent." As I had for many years been upon terms of intimacy with Sir Francis Burdett, and had always acted in strict conformity with his political principles, I own that I considered that answer to me as a direct insult, ...
— Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 3 • Henry Hunt

... overruled the deposition of Mr. Stanton, and General Grant gracefully retired that the "War Secretary" might assume the duties of his office. This made President Johnson very angry. He had wanted to use General Grant as a cat's-paw for keeping Stanton out of the War Department, and had hoped at the same time to injure Grant in the estimation of the people. He raised a question of veracity with the General commanding, but Congress and the people speedily decided between the soldier, whose reputation ...
— Perley's Reminiscences, Vol. 1-2 - of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis • Benjamin Perley Poore

... to take a kingdom which he believed to be his by right; which he had formerly demanded of William. When he arrived there, he found himself a mere cat's-paw for recovering that kingdom for an incapable boy, whom he believed to have no right to the ...
— Hereward, The Last of the English • Charles Kingsley

... The whiskers, if properly attended to, may be made to yield about an easy chair in the same space of time; whilst luxuriant moustachios will give a pair of anti-rheumatic attrition gloves every six months. Mr. M. recommends, as the best mode of cultivation for barren soils, to plough with a cat's-paw, ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete • Various

... ex loco, opere, tactu vel conditione.' I will admit that this power is but vague, slight, tenuous, and dissipatory, still there it is: though of course its poor effect is to that of the Benedictio major what a cat's-paw in the Solent is to a ...
— The Path to Rome • Hilaire Belloc

... project of the marriage between their daughter Katharine and the Prince of Wales. Henry, however, was now in a much stronger position at home; and though he desired the Spanish alliance, he had no intention of allowing that bait to seduce him into making himself a cat's-paw. France was offering a counter-inducement in the shape of a marriage with the daughter of the Duke of Bourbon; Henry indicated that while Maximilian was fostering the pretensions of the impostor Warbeck, it was not serious politics to talk of being ...
— England Under the Tudors • Arthur D. Innes

... amusement of baiting the other man's evident misery soon palled. He was a little annoyed himself that Joan should have seen fit to drag him in as such a cat's-paw, for a very few minutes of their threesome had shown him what his part was intended to be. It meant in addition that the girl had fooled him, and that he had wasted his background of red roses. It was all very annoying and a very ...
— To Love • Margaret Peterson

... as she learned the existence of a second Giovanni Saracinesca, it seemed to her that she must have been mad not to foresee such an explanation from the first. She had been duped, she had been made a cat's-paw, she had been abominably deceived by Del Ferice, who had made use of this worthless bribe in order to extort from her a promise of marriage. She felt very ill, as very vain people often do when they ...
— Saracinesca • F. Marion Crawford

... of Mondolfo," shouted one tall fellow, "and the Cardinal-legate makes a cat's-paw of him! He is to suffer for Messer ...
— The Strolling Saint • Raphael Sabatini

... he answered the question. "He has allied himself with some of the noblest houses in France; that is to say, with the most heartless spendthrifts in Europe. Napoleon IV? They are laughing behind his back this very minute. They are making a cat's-paw of his really magnificent fight for their own ignoble ends, the Orleanist party. To wreak petty vengeance on France, for which none of them has any love; to embroil the government and the army that they may tell of it in the ...
— A Splendid Hazard • Harold MacGrath

... better the case for his countryman that, being an accomplice in the crime, making himself the leader in the persecution against the helpless girl, he was willing to be all this in the spirit, and with the conscious vileness of a cat's-paw. Never from the foundations of the earth was there such a trial as this, if it were laid open in all its beauty of defence and all its hellishness of attack. Oh, child of France! shepherdess, peasant girl! trodden under foot by all around ...
— The English Mail-Coach and Joan of Arc • Thomas de Quincey

... opened a great career to you," said his brother gravely. "If you wish to be a duke also, be, as I am, the accomplice and cat's-paw of our mistress; she is the strongest here, and she will continue in power. Madame de Sauves is on her side, and the king of Navarre and the Duc d'Alencon are still for Madame de Sauves. Catherine holds the pair in a leash under Charles IX., and she ...
— Catherine de' Medici • Honore de Balzac

... rugged shore of the island, in the direction of the open sea. To lighten her, the little boat astern was cut adrift. Continuing their course, they rowed quite past the island, and then, turning abruptly to the southward, they pulled steadily on until the first "cat's-paw" of the ...
— Under the Waves - Diving in Deep Waters • R M Ballantyne

... up and down the room, with his hands onder his coat-tails, for ever so long, without a sayin' of a word. At last, sais he, with a beautiful smile that was jist skin deep, for it played on his face as a cat's-paw does on the calm waters, 'What was you a sayin.' of, Mr. ...
— The Attache - or, Sam Slick in England, Complete • Thomas Chandler Haliburton

... splinted; the body of Brown fetched from the forepeak, where it lay stiff and cold, and committed to the waters of the lagoon; and the washing of the cabin rudely finished. All these were done ere mid-day; and it was past three when the first cat's-paw ruffled the lagoon, and the wind came in a dry squall, which presently sobered to ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 13 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... and was not cognisant of their manner of conducting warfare. He also was of opinion that the Chinese Government ought to be able to deal with their own internal affairs, and put down any rebellions that might occur without making a cat's-paw of his son. One cannot blame the father, who only looked at the matter in a natural way, judging the circumstances from his own standpoint. It is impossible to consider the whole facts, and to read the letters concerning them, without feeling that neither father nor son had anything of which ...
— General Gordon - A Christian Hero • Seton Churchill

... with a profound salutation to Sir Robert Hazlewood. Sir Robert, who had rather begun to suspect that his plebeian neighbour had made a cat's-paw of him, inclined his head stiffly, took snuff, ...
— Guy Mannering • Sir Walter Scott

... that," answered Jack, "I have no wish to quarrel with you, or any other man; but it strikes me I have been made a 'cat's-paw' of, and I tell you frankly I should like to know our object in coming ...
— John Deane of Nottingham - Historic Adventures by Land and Sea • W.H.G. Kingston

... obstinate fighting blood of the Guiscards got up in him. He would not be made a cat's-paw. If she exasperated him further he would forget about being a gentleman, and act as a savage man, and seize her in his arms and ...
— The Reason Why • Elinor Glyn

... sail had been got out, bent to the yard, reefed, and ready for hoisting. Waiting for a good opportunity, the halyards were manned and the yard hoisted fairly up to the block; but when the mate came to shake the cat's-paw out of the downhaul, and we began to boom end the sail, it shook the ship to her center. The boom buckled up and bent like a whipstick, and we looked every moment to see something go; but, being of the short, ...
— McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader • William Holmes McGuffey

... rampant discourses? She never wrote them herself,—don't tell me; at least somebody else put her up to it,—that strong-minded-looking teacher over yonder, for instance. She looks capable of anything, and something worse, in the denouncing way; poor little beauty was her cat's-paw this morning." ...
— What Answer? • Anna E. Dickinson

... the glowing, tranquil ocean, like some huge mirror on which we were resting, made me fear that my son had been mistaken. I shook my head, and a sigh escaped from several of our party, as they sank down again on their seats. Just then, however, I caught sight of a light cat's-paw skimming over the water in the distance, and Peter, springing at the same moment into the rigging and pointing westward, exclaimed, "Here it comes, father, no mistake about it now." I followed him up the rigging, and ...
— Peter Biddulph - The Story of an Australian Settler • W.H.G. Kingston

... in the Empire who, as yet, remained in ignorance of this trait of his official: who had never felt the faintest scratch beneath the velvet of his favorite cat's-paw. Thus it was that Michael's momentary defeat had come about. Czar Nicholas crossed him openly; put upon him an affront unbearable; lowered him in the eyes of three hundred puny men and women over whom he had no ...
— The Genius • Margaret Horton Potter



Words linked to "Cat's-paw" :   helper, instrument, help, pawn, hitch, supporter



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