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n. pl. cat-o'-nine-tails
A whip consisting of nine knotted cords fastened to a handle, used in flogging.
[So called because it leaves marks like the scratches of a cat.]
n, pl -tails
(Historical Terms) a rope whip consisting of nine knotted thongs, used formerly to flog prisoners. Often shortened to: cat
n., pl. -tails.
a whip, usu. having nine knotted thongs or cords fastened to a handle, used for flogging.
[1685–95; from the resemblance of scars to a cat's scratches]