cat’s paw

an exploited person


cat's paw [a person used or exploited by another] = Handlanger, Gefolgsmann, Ja-Sager, Sündenbock —— to make a cat's-paw of sb. = von jdm. die Kastanien aus dem Feuer holen lassen —— cat's paw [water surface] = ein Wellenmuster auf der Wasseroberfläche, das durch einen leichten Wind verursacht wird



“How Putin’s ‘CAT’S PAW’ sunk into Sudan. Wagner, under the leadership of oligarch and ex-convict Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been helping Russian President Vladimir Putin achieve his goals outside Russia’s borders, while providing a thin veneer of deniability.”

Frida Ghitis — CNN (26th April 2023)

Did you

cat's paw
colloquial noun-phrase

-  a person used by another to do dangerous, distasteful, or unlawful work

- a pattern of ripples on the surface of water caused by a light wind

Collins Dictionary


“Cat’s paw” comes from Le Singe et le Chat “The Monkey and the Cat” — a fable by Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695) the French poet and collector of fairy tales.

A monkey persuades a cat to pull chestnuts out of the fire and promises to share them. After the cat scoops the chestnuts one by one out of the hot coals (and burning its paw in the process) the monkey eats them all, leaving none for the poor cat.


- Lion's paw scallop (Nodipecten nodosus)

- NGC 6334 (also known as the Cat's Paw Nebula, Bear Claw Nebula, or Gum 64) is a highly active star-forming region located in the constellation Scorpius. It was discovered by astronomer John Herschel in 1837, who observed it from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

- In 1696, John Bernoulli's received an anonymous solution to a hard math problem 'I see the paw of the lion' he remarked, correctly identifying the hand of Sir Isaac Newton.


- a person or group that is used or controlled by another

acolyte, adherent, aide, apprentice, assistant, attendant, aunt Sally, babe in woods, bimbo, birdbrain, blockhead, bonehead, bootlicker, brown-noser, can-carrier, casualty, CAT’S PAW, charlie, chump, clod, clown, cog, cronie, dependent, deputy, dill, dimwit, dipstick, dogsbody, dolt, doorman, doormat, dork, drudge, dumbbell, dumbo, dummy, dunce, dunderhead, dupe, easy mark (prey, target), errand boy, everybody's fool, fawner, flatterer, flunkey, flunky, footman, goat, gofer, goofball, gopher, gudgeon, halfwit, hanger-on, henchman, hired hand, hireling, hostage, instrument, jackal, juggins, knucklehead, lackey, lackey-boy (-girl), lamb to the slaughter, lapdog, lickspittle, loon, mark, martyr, menial, minion, mouthpiece, mug, muggins, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, numbskull, numpty, numskull, oaf, patsy, pawn, pea-brain, peon, pigeon, poodle, prey, prize-sap, puppet, pushover, retainer, runner, sacrifice, sap,  scapegoat, schmuck, second fiddle, serf, servant, sidekick, simpleton, sitting-duck (-target), skivvy, soft touch, spaniel, spear carrier, stooge, stool pigeon, subordinate, suck-up, sucker, sycophant, thicko, toady, tool, trusting-soul, turkey, twit, underdog, underling, understrapper, valet, vassal, victim, whipping-boy, worker bee, wretch, yes-man (-person, -woman), yes-sirree

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“The origin of the phrase ‘CAT’S PAW’ (about the monkey and the cat) makes it very memorable.”

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