Friday, January 11, 2008

cat's paw

The Cat's Paw Nebula

This week's theme: Whose what? (animal edition)

cat's paw (cats paw) noun

1. Someone used as a tool by another.

2. A kind of knot used to connect a rope to an object.

3. A breeze that ruffles the surface of the water over a small area.

[The first sense of the term comes from the fable in which a monkey uses a cat to pull roasting chestnuts from a fire. The monkey gobbles up all the nuts while the cat is left with a burnt paw. See Edwin Landseer's
1824 painting Cat's Paw:

The second sense refers to the supposed resemblance of such a knot to a cat's paw:'s+paw+knot

The origin of the third sense is unknown.]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus:'s-paw

-Anu Garg (words at

"Prime Minister Tony Blair was reprimanded in the British parliament for
his willingness to be the cat's paw of the U.S."
Craig R. Eisendrath and Melvin A. Goodman; Shoot First, Talk Later;
USA Today (Washington, DC); Jul 1, 2004.

The above was sent to me via the email service A Word a Day (the third meaning of the term cat's paw is quite nice and is one I'd never heard before). Anyone, I believe, can subscribe for free for this service here:

Once one subscribes one is sent a word a day and it's definition, organized under a weekly theme. I recommend it highly.

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