Cat's cradle
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's cradle — is a well known series of string figures created between two people as a game. The name of the entire game, the specific figures, their order, and the names of the figures vary. Versions of this game have been found in indigenous cultures all… …   Wikipedia

  • Cat's cradle — Cradle Cra dle (kr[=a]d l), n. [AS. cradel, cradol, prob. from Celtic; cf. Gael. creathall, Ir. craidhal, W. cryd a shaking or rocking, a cradle; perh. akin to E. crate.] 1. A bed or cot for a baby, oscillating on rockers or swinging on pivots;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cat's cradle — n 1.) [U] a game you play by winding string around your fingers to make different patterns 2.) [singular] a set of lines, threads etc that form a complicated pattern ▪ The searchlights wove a cat s cradle of light …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cat's cradle — ► NOUN ▪ a child s game in which patterns are constructed in a loop of string held between the fingers of each hand …   English terms dictionary

  • cat's cradle — n. a children s pastime in which a string looped over the fingers is transferred back and forth on the hands of the players so as to form different designs …   English World dictionary

  • cat's cradle — noun uncount a game in which children hold a piece of string around their hands and make patterns by moving their fingers through the string …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Cat's Cradle — For other uses see Cat s cradle (disambiguation). Infobox Book name = Cat s Cradle title orig = Cat s Cradle translator = image caption = First edition hardback cover author = Kurt Vonnegut illustrator = cover artist = country = United States… …   Wikipedia

  • cat's cradle — noun Date: 1754 1. a game in which a string looped in a pattern like a cradle on the fingers of one person s hands is transferred to the hands of another so as to form a different figure 2. something that is intricate, complicated, or elaborate < …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cat's cradle — cat s′ cra′dle n. gam a game in which two players alternately stretch a looped string over their fingers to produce different designs • Etymology: 1760–70 …   From formal English to slang

  • cat's-cradle — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ noun (plural cat s cradles) : ribgrass …   Useful english dictionary

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