To bell the cat
cat cat (k[a^]t), n. [AS. cat; akin to D. & Dan. kat, Sw. katt, Icel. k["o]ttr, G. katze, kater, Ir. cat, W. cath, Armor. kaz, LL. catus, Bisc. catua, NGr. ga`ta, ga`tos, Russ. & Pol. kot, Turk. kedi, Ar. qitt; of unknown origin. Cf. {Kitten}.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) Any animal belonging to the natural family {Felidae}, and in particular to the various species of the genera {Felis}, {Panthera}, and {Lynx}. The domestic cat is {Felis domestica}. The European wild cat ({Felis catus}) is much larger than the domestic cat. In the United States the name {wild cat} is commonly applied to the bay lynx ({Lynx rufus}). The larger felines, such as the lion, tiger, leopard, and cougar, are often referred to as cats, and sometimes as big cats. See {Wild cat}, and {Tiger cat}. [1913 Webster +PJC]

Note: The domestic cat includes many varieties named from their place of origin or from some peculiarity; as, the {Angora cat}; the {Maltese cat}; the {Manx cat}; the {Siamese cat}. [1913 Webster]

Laying aside their often rancorous debate over how best to preserve the {Florida panther}, state and federal wildlife officials, environmentalists, and independent scientists endorsed the proposal, and in 1995 the eight cats [female Texas cougars] were brought from Texas and released. . . . Uprooted from the arid hills of West Texas, three of the imports have died, but the remaining five adapted to swamp life and have each given birth to at least one litter of kittens. --Mark Derr (N. Y. Times, Nov. 2, 1999, Science Times p. F2). [PJC]

Note: The word cat is also used to designate other animals, from some fancied resemblance; as, civet cat, fisher cat, catbird, catfish shark, sea cat. [1913 Webster]

2. (Naut.) (a) A strong vessel with a narrow stern, projecting quarters, and deep waist. It is employed in the coal and timber trade. (b) A strong tackle used to draw an anchor up to the cathead of a ship. --Totten. [1913 Webster]

3. A double tripod (for holding a plate, etc.), having six feet, of which three rest on the ground, in whatever position it is placed. [1913 Webster]

4. An old game; specifically: (a) The game of tipcat and the implement with which it is played. See {Tipcat}. (b) A game of ball, called, according to the number of batters, one old cat, two old cat, etc. [1913 Webster]

5. same as {cat o' nine tails}; as, British sailors feared the cat. [1913 Webster + WordNet 1.5]

6. A {catamaran}. [PJC]

{Angora cat}, {blind cat}, See under {Angora}, {Blind}.

{Black cat} the fisher. See under {Black}.

{Cat and dog}, like a cat and dog; quarrelsome; inharmonious. ``I am sure we have lived a cat and dog life of it.'' --Coleridge.

{Cat block} (Naut.), a heavy iron-strapped block with a large hook, part of the tackle used in drawing an anchor up to the cathead.

{Cat hook} (Naut.), a strong hook attached to a cat block.

{Cat nap}, a very short sleep. [Colloq.]

{Cat o' nine tails}, an instrument of punishment consisting of nine pieces of knotted line or cord fastened to a handle; -- formerly used to flog offenders on the bare back.

{Cat's cradle}, game played, esp. by children, with a string looped on the fingers so, as to resemble small cradle. The string is transferred from the fingers of one to those of another, at each transfer with a change of form. See {Cratch}, {Cratch cradle}.

{To bell the cat}, to perform a very dangerous or very difficult task; -- taken metaphorically from a fable about a mouse who proposes to put a bell on a cat, so as to be able to hear the cat coming.

{To let the cat out of the bag}, to tell a secret, carelessly or willfully. [Colloq.]

{Bush cat}, the serval. See {Serval}. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • To let the cat out of the bag — cat cat (k[a^]t), n. [AS. cat; akin to D. & Dan. kat, Sw. katt, Icel. k[ o]ttr, G. katze, kater, Ir. cat, W. cath, Armor. kaz, LL. catus, Bisc. catua, NGr. ga ta, ga tos, Russ. & Pol. kot, Turk. kedi, Ar. qitt; of unknown origin. Cf. {Kitten}.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bell the cat — To bell the cat is to perform a difficult or impossible task …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • Bell the cat — Belling the cat or to bell the cat is an English colloquialism that means to suggest or attempt to perform a difficult or impossible task. [ [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/To+bell+the+cat To Bell the Cat ] thefreedictionary.com. Accessed… …   Wikipedia

  • bell the cat — verb take a risk; perform a daring act Who is going to bell the cat? • Hypernyms: ↑risk, ↑put on the line, ↑lay on the line • Verb Frames: Somebody s * * * phrasal …   Useful english dictionary

  • bell the cat — ► bell the cat take the danger of a shared enterprise upon oneself. [ORIGIN: an allusion to a fable in which the mice suggest hanging a bell around the cat s neck to have warning of its approach.] Main Entry: ↑bell …   English terms dictionary

  • bell the cat — take the danger of a shared enterprise upon oneself. [an allusion to a fable in which the mice suggest hanging a bell around the cat s neck to have warning of its approach.] → bell …   English new terms dictionary

  • bell the cat — Synonyms and related words: affront, beard, bite the bullet, brave, brazen, brazen out, confront, court danger, defy danger, face, face the music, face up, face up to, flirt with death, front, go for broke, meet, meet boldly, meet head on, play… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • bell the cat — verb To undertake a dangerous action in the service of a group …   Wiktionary

  • BELL-THE-CAT —    Archibald Douglas, Earl of Arran, so called from his offer to dispose by main force of an obnoxious favourite of the king, James III …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • bell the cat — phrasal to do a daring or risky deed …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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