Word of the Day : October 4, 2013

cat's-paw

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noun KATS-paw

Definition

1 : a light air that ruffles the surface of the water in irregular patches during a calm

2 : one used by another as a tool : dupe

3 : a hitch knot formed with two eyes for attaching a line to a hook

Did You Know?

Being made a cat's-paw may not only be embarrassing-it can leave you with singed fingers (or paws, as the case may be). The "dupe" sense of "cat's-paw" comes from an old fable in which a monkey uses flattery to trick a cat into taking chestnuts out of the fire where they are roasting. The cat succeeds in removing the chestnuts but also burns his paw in the process. And when the unsuspecting feline turns around, he discovers that the monkey has cracked and eaten all the nuts!


Examples

"It was one of those silent, dreamy spring days when sunshine pours down upon the yet-cold earth and the earth turns in its sleep. No cloud in the sky. Not one cat's-paw of breeze." - From Esther Forbes' 1943 novel Johnny Tremain

"You're no one's cat's-paw. Quit worrying that people are trying to use you for their own purposes." - From a horoscope by Jeraldine Saunders in the San Jose Mercury News (California), March 27, 2013



Test Your Vocabulary

What is the meaning of the fable-derived phrase "dog in the manger"? The answer is …


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