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A person who is used by another to achieve some end, especially in a duplicitous or cynical manner. Taken from a fable about a monkey who uses a cat's paw to retrieve chestnuts from a fire. I thought that Jake really loved me, but in the end, I was just a cat's-paw so he could stir up jealousy in his ex-boyfriend.

keep (one's) paws off (something or someone)

1. To refrain from touching or handling (something or someone). Usually said imperatively. You kids keep your paws off those cookies. They're for after dinner! I told you I wasn't interested, so keep your paws off me, you creep! That car is brand new, so keep your paws off!
2. To refrain from becoming involved with or attempting to take or control (something or someone). Usually said imperatively. That rotten bank had better keep its paws off my land! Listen, buddy, keep your paws off my sister, you hear?
See also: keep, off, paw

paw at (someone or something)

1. Of an animal, to lightly hit or scrape someone or something repeatedly with its paws. The dog keeps pawing at the same spot on the carpet. Something must be underneath it. Your cat's been pawing at me for the last twenty minutes. I wish it would leave me alone!
2. To touch or grab at someone or something with one's hands in a rude, clumsy, or overly familiar manner. As soon as he started pawing at me during the movie, I knew the date was over. Stop pawing at the remote control—you can have it as soon as my show is finished!
See also: paw

cat's paw

A dupe or tool for another, a sucker, as in You always try to make a cat's paw of me, but I refuse to do any more of your work. This term alludes to a very old tale about a monkey that persuades a cat to pull chestnuts out of the fire so as to avoid burning its own paws. The story dates from the 16th century and versions of it (some with a dog) exist in many languages.
See also: paw

paw at

1. To strike or scrape something repeatedly with a paw or paws: The cat pawed at the ball of string and chased it around the room.
2. To handle someone or something clumsily, rudely, or with too much familiarity: Stop pawing at all the fruit in the store! I was annoyed because my date kept pawing at me.
See also: paw


1. n. someone’s hand. (Jocular.) Get your paws off me!
2. tv. to feel someone or handle someone sexually. If you paw me again, I’ll slap you!
3. tv. to touch someone more than is necessary or desired, without any sexual intent. I don’t like for people to paw me while they’re shaking hands. There is no reason to shake my shoulder, too.
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