a. A small domesticated carnivorous mammal (Felis catus), kept as a pet and as catcher of vermin, and existing in a variety of breeds.
b. Any of various other carnivorous mammals of the family Felidae, including the lion, tiger, leopard, and lynx.
2. Informal A woman who is regarded as spiteful.
a. A person, especially a man.
b. A player or devotee of jazz music.
4. A cat-o'-nine-tails.
5. A catfish.
a. A cathead.
b. A device for raising an anchor to the cathead.
c. A catboat.
d. A catamaran.
v. cat·ted, cat·ting, cats
To hoist an anchor to (the cathead).
To look for sexual partners; have an affair or affairs: "catting around with every lady in sight" (Gore Vidal).
let the cat out of the bag
To let a secret be known.
[Middle English, from Old English catt, from Germanic *kattuz; akin to Late Latin cattus and Old Church Slavonic kotŭka, all ultimately of unknown origin. Sense 6d, short for CATAMARAN.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.