Posted by Pamela on January 03, 2007
In Reply to: Cat whisker posted by Smokey Stover on January 02, 2007
: : cat whisker, how the same is used in day to day langusge, its meaning
: In everyday language, it refers to the whisker of a cat, which would be one of the stiff, protruding hairs next to a cat's nostrils and abeam of its mouth to some extent. A cat may also have a few such stiff and protruding hairs above his eyes but below his ears. They are used as antennae by the cat, sometimes to test whether an opening is large enough for them to pass through.
: The term cat's whisker is sometimes used for the wire or pin that touches a crystal in a home-made radio tuner, although not many people make their own radio in that way these days.
The expression "by a whisker" means by a very small amount e.g. "He won the election by a whisker" means he just got enough votes to win. I looked on google and people are using the expression "by a cat's whisker" in the same way e.g. "I passed my CSE by a cats' whisker with a grade 4." meaning that she barely passed her exam. (http://www.angelfire.com/biz6/Psyteric/bio.html). Mice have whiskers as well and "by a mouse's whisker" came up with one hit "These people don't want to just win by a mouse's whisker, they want to tromp the opposition into paste. They want all or nothing - and people who want it ..." http://www.plastic.com/article.html;sid=05/05/19/11014692. Are there any other animals with whiskers? I don't know -cats and mice are the only two which spring to my mind although I'm sure there are others. But "by a whisker" (i.e. withour the "cat's") is the only one I've heard used myself. Pamela