cat-o'-nine-tails love



from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A whip consisting of nine knotted cords fastened to a handle, used in flogging.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A similarly constructed leather nine-tail whip, as used in British penal colonies and certain armies

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a whip with nine knotted cords


So called because it leaves marks like the scratches of a cat.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From cat + of + nine + tail, attested 1695. (Wiktionary)


  • That is at football, by the way, not just the nation's game but its sackcloth and ashes, its cat-o'-nine-tails, its hemlock on the bedside table.

    Wales join the queue to give England's divine right a real kicking | Kevin Mitchell

  • In medieval prisons, inmates were punished with a device called a "cat-o'-nine-tails" -- a whip made of nine knotted thongs of cord designed to lacerate the skin and cause intense pain.

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  • In the hour President Obama spent at the podium in the East Room this week holding a news conference on the Gulf oil spill, he practiced every form of self-flagellation short of bringing out a cat-o'-nine-tails.

    Obama's oil spill response: Too much culpability, too much passivity

  • The trunk was built like a cat-o'-nine-tails; it held a bayoneted rifle.

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  • If Apple represents the shiny, happy future of the tech industry, it also looks a lot like our cat-o'-nine-tails past.

    How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

  • This was 1987, north of the Arctic Circle, on the Kola Peninsula, where winter gales blew off the Barents Sea, whipping the port like a cat-o'-nine-tails made of ice.

    Tell Them, Please Tell Them

  • As a female student volunteer stood facing the blackboard, and 24 Columbians watched, a lecturer who identified himself only as Dov flogged her with whips, rubber hoses and a cat-o'-nine-tails.

    College Hasn't Changed a Bit Since I Graduated

  • Cat Pete (his name was not given him because he was silent and catlike in his grace, but because he had once been soundly whipped with a cat-o'-nine-tails) was very selective of his vic­tims.

    Dragons Of Summer Flame

  • Why should he risk bruising his precious knuckles when he had a weapon as caustic as the contempt he brandished like a cat-o'-nine-tails?

    Thief Of Hearts

  • The shadowy chamber was an Inquisitor's dream, appointed with a handsome torture rack, a barbed cat-o'-nine-tails, three pairs of rusty manacles bolted to the wall, and several other ominous meldings of metal and wood.

    Thief Of Hearts

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