Cat o' nine tails
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:

  • Cat o' nine tails — cat o nine tails cat o nine tails . 1. a whip used as 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; called also the {cat}. It was used in the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — cat o nine tails cat o nine tails . 1. a whip used as 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; called also the {cat}. It was used in the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — [kat΄ə nīn′tālz΄] n. pl. cat o nine tails a whip made of nine knotted cords attached to a handle, formerly used for flogging …   English World dictionary

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — [ˌkæt ə ˈnaın teılz] n [singular] a whip made of nine knotted strings, used in the past for punishing people …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — ► NOUN historical ▪ a rope whip with nine knotted cords, used for flogging …   English terms dictionary

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — 1690s, probably so called in reference to its claws. It was a legal instrument of punishment in British Navy until 1881 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Cat o' nine tails — This article is about the implement of punishment. For the Cat O Nine Tails plant, see Typha latifolia. For the film, see The Cat o Nine Tails. A leather cat o nine tails pictured with a U.S. dollar bill for size comparison. A U.S. dollar bill is …   Wikipedia

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — noun (plural cat o nine tails) Etymology: from the resemblance of its scars to the scratches of a cat Date: 1665 a whip made of usually nine knotted lines or cords fastened to a handle …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — noun a) A whip having nine, often knotted, whipcords, formerly used for flogging as naval punishment. If you should give such language at sea, youd have a cat o’ nine tails laid cross your shoulders. b) A similarly constructed leather nine tail… …   Wiktionary

  • cat-o'-nine-tails — /ˌkæt ə ˈnaɪn ˌteɪlz / (say .kat uh nuyn .taylz) noun (plural cat o nine tails) a whip, usually having nine knotted lines or cords fastened to a handle, used to flog offenders …   Australian English dictionary

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