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tipcat

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tipcat n [OED2 tip-cat n. 2 1801→ (but elsewhere attested at least as early as 1681)] Also called cat n 3b, cat and dog n, cat-nipper n 1, catty n1 1, kitty n 4, nipsy n, peeny n, peewee n 3, peggy n1, picky n2 1, pussy n 5, shimmy n2, tippy-cat n, triggie n

A game in which a short stick, usu tapered at one or both ends (usu called cat n 3a), is hit with a longer stick to make it bounce up and then struck again; typically the game is scored according to the distance achieved in a certain number of attempts, but the details vary widely.
1856 Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer (OH) 21 Nov [2]/3, Thus you are tossed, or rather played, “tip-cat” with till the players are tired. 1869 Atlantic Mth. 23.282 NYC, Everywhere . . the boy may be seen engaged in the winsome game called “tip-cat,” . . he tips featly from the ground the odious, conical chunk of wood from which the pastime derives its name. 1873 Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle (NY) 21 May [2]/5, Little boys around the city are playing “tip cat,” and passers by save their eyes by holding their hands over them. 1880 Salt Lake Daily Herald (Salt Lake City UT) 7 Mar [3]/5, The boys take up all the dry spots by engaging in the highly moral and intellectual game of tip-cat. 1895 Los Angeles Times (CA) 22 Sept 20/1, [Short story:] A curly head was poked through the basement and the voice of Nikola, the Greek, shouted: “Hi there, Ju’lus, ain’t yer comin’ out to play tip-cat?” 1902 NY Times (NY) 16 June 8/5, [Letter:] Ball-playing and “tip cat” on the sidewalks are a danger as well as an annoyance to every passer-by. 1906 Lovett Old Boston Boys 46, “Tip-cat” was also a popular game. One occasionally sees it played to-day, but not to the extent that it was then. 1914 NY Times (NY) 4 June 10/6, [Letter:] A worse game is the one called “cat”—properly tip-cat. When the puck of the “cat” goes flying through the air it is liable to put out an eye or break the teeth or nose of a citizen pedestrian. [1936 Detroit Free Press (MI) 21 June sec 1 6/3, The game that we did delight in, and which I can’t find any boy who ever heard of it is what we called, I think, tit-tat. Mayby it was tit-cat. I dunno. But it was a swell game. We had a small piece of wood . . , sharply pointed at both ends. There were four sides to this bit of wood and we would carve into it Roman numerals, I, II, III, IV. We would also carve paddles from shingles to use as bats. The game was to hit one of the pointed ends sharply to make the stick jump into the air and then slam it with our shingle-paddle.] 1943 Sun (Baltimore MD) 17 Aug 12/7 PA, William Harold Martin asserts that in Pennsylvania the game was called tip-cat, and the short stick was the cat. If it were caught on the fly, the batter was out, but if it were retrieved from the ground it had to be thrown at the bat, lying in the ring. If it hit the bat, the batter was out, but if it missed, the batter estimated the number of bat lengths it lay from the bat and claimed that number as his score. But if he claimed too much, as shown by actual measurement, usually made with the bat, he was out.

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Etymological Supplement:

1681 Homer Alamode, the Second Part 2.36, The Cyclops, Sir, (I tell no Fable) / Had a huge Catstick near the Stable, / Green still and pithy; he had clipt that / From some great Wood to play at Tipcat.

<Early English Books Online; Wing S2133>

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