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See also: Cat, CAT, cât, cãt, and .cat


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A domestic cat


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English cat, catte, from Old English catt (male cat), catte (female cat), from Proto-Germanic *kattuz. The Germanic word is generally thought be from Late Latin cattus (domestic cat), from Latin catta (used around 75 AD by Martial),[1] from an Afro-Asiatic language, but every proposed source word has presented problems. Many references refer to "Berber" (Kabyle) kaddîska (wildcat) and "Nubian [script needed] (kadīs)" as possible sources or cognates, but M. Lionel Bender says the Nubian term is a loan from Arabic قِطَّة (qiṭṭa).[2] Jean-Paul Savignac suggests the Latin word is from an Egyptian precursor of Coptic ϣⲁⲩ (šau, tomcat) suffixed with feminine -t,[3] but John Huehnergard says "the source [...] was clearly not Egyptian itself, where no analogous form is attested."[2] Huehnergard opines it is "equally likely that the forms might derive from an ancient Germanic word, imported into Latin and thence to Greek and to Syriac and Arabic".

Related to Scots cat, West Frisian kat, North Frisian kåt and kaat, Dutch kat, Danish kat, Norwegian katt, Swedish katt, Low German Katt and Katte, German Katze, Alemannic German Chatz, Icelandic köttur, Afrikaans kat, French chat, Norman cat, Occitan cat, Aromanian cãtush, Scottish Gaelic cat, Irish cat, Welsh cath, Cornish kath, as well as Ancient Greek κάττα (kátta), Greek γάτα (gáta), and from the same ultimate source Russian кот (kot), Belarusian кот (kot), Polish kot, Kashubian kòt, Lithuanian katė, and more distantly Armenian կատու (katu), Basque katu, Hebrew חתול (khatúl), Arabic قِطَّة (qiṭṭa) .


cat (plural cats)

  1. An animal of the family Felidae:
    • 2011, Karl Kruszelnicki, Brain Food, ISBN 1466828129, page 53:
      Mammals need two genes to make the taste receptor for sugar. Studies in various cats (tigers, cheetahs and domestic cats) showed that one of these genes has mutated and no longer works.
    Synonyms: felid
    1. A domesticated subspecies (Felis silvestris catus) of feline animal, commonly kept as a house pet. [from 8thc.]
      • 1893, Walter Besant, The Ivory Gate, chapter II:
        At twilight in the summer there is never anybody to fear—man, woman, or cat—in the chambers and at that hour the mice come out. They do not eat parchment or foolscap or red tape, but they eat the luncheon crumbs.
      Synonyms: puss, pussy, malkin, kitty, pussy-cat, grimalkin
    2. Any similar animal of the family Felidae, which includes lions, tigers, bobcats, etc.
      • 1977, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Death in the Long Grass: A Big Game Hunter's Adventures in the African Bush, St. Martin's Press, 44.
        I grabbed it and ran over to the lion from behind, the cat still chewing thoughtfully on Silent's arm.
      • 1985 January, George Laycock, "Our American Lion", in Boy Scouts of America, Boy's Life, 28.
        If you should someday round a corner on the hiking trail and come face to face with a mountain lion, you would probably never forget the mighty cat.
      • 2014, Dale Mayer, Rare Find. A Psychic Visions Novel, Valley Publishing.
        She felt privileged to be here, living the experience inside the majestic cat [i.e. a tiger]; privileged to be part of their bond, even for only a few hours.
  2. A person.
    1. (offensive) A spiteful or angry woman. [from earlier 13thc.]
      • 1835 September, anonymous, "The Pigs", in The New-England Magazine, Vol. 9, 156.
        But, ere one rapid moon its tale has told, / He finds his prize — a cat — a slut — a scold.
      Synonyms: bitch
    2. An enthusiast or player of jazz.
      • 2008, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (lyrics and music), “Hold on to Yourself”:
        I turn on the radio / There's some cat on the saxophone / Laying down a litany of excuses
    3. (slang) A person (usually male).
      • 1973 December, "Books Noted", discussing A Dialogue (by James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni), in Black World, Johnson Publishing Company, 77.
        BALDWIN: That's what we were talking about before. And by the way, you did not have to tell me that you think your father is a groovy cat; I knew that.
      Synonyms: bloke, chap, cove, dude, fellow, fella, guy
    4. (slang) A prostitute. [from at least early 15thc.]
      • 1999, Carl P. Eby, Hemingway's Fetishism. Psychoanalysis and the Mirror of Manhood, State University of New York Press, 124.
        “Tell me. Willie said there was a cat in love with you. That isn't true, is it?” “Yes. It's true,” Hudson corrects her, letting her think that by “cat” he means prostitute.
  3. (nautical) A strong tackle used to hoist an anchor to the cathead of a ship.
    • 2009, Olof A. Eriksen, Constitution - All Sails Up and Flying, Outskirts Press, 134.
      Overhaul down & hook the cat, haul taut. Walk away the cat. When up, pass the cat head stopper. Hook the fish in & fish the anchor.
  4. (chiefly nautical) Short form of cat-o'-nine-tails.
    • 1839, Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, testimony by Henry L. Pinckney (Assembly No. 335), page 44:
      [] he whipped a black man for disobedience of his orders fifty lashes; and again whipped him with a cat, which he wound with wire, about the same number of stripes; [] he used this cat on one other man, and then destroyed the cat wound with wire.
  5. (slang) Any of a variety of earth-moving machines. (from their manufacturer Caterpillar Inc.)
  6. (archaic) A sturdy merchant sailing vessel (now only in "catboat").
  7. (archaic, uncountable) The game of "trap and ball" (also called "cat and dog").
    1. The trap of the game of "trap and ball".
  8. (slang, vulgar, African American Vernacular) A vagina, a vulva; the female external genitalia.
    • 1969, Iceberg Slim, Pimp: The Story of My Life, Holloway House Publishing:
      "What the hell, so this broad's got a prematurely-gray cat."
    • 2005, Carolyn Chambers Sanders, Sins & Secrets, Hachette Digital:
      As she came up, she tried to put her cat in his face for some licking.
    • 2007, Franklin White, Money for Good, Simon and Schuster, page 64:
      I had a notion to walk over to her, rip her apron off, sling her housecoat open and put my finger inside her cat to see if she was wet or freshly fucked because the dream I had earlier was beginning to really annoy me.
  9. A double tripod (for holding a plate, etc.) with six feet, of which three rest on the ground, in whatever position it is placed.

See also Wikisaurus:cat, Wikisaurus:man.

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Derived terms[edit]
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