Definition of stalking horse in US English:

stalking horse


  • 1A false pretext concealing someone's real intentions.

    • ‘Or the controversy could itself be a stalking horse intended to lure private interests into ponying up some cash to keep the unit.’
    • ‘He is no longer prepared to be used as a stalking horse.’
    • ‘Some writers and speakers betray this ideal, and use language as a sham to mask an intellectual void; or worse, as a stalking horse for quite different ideas they dare not acknowledge.’
    • ‘The debate is more of a stalking horse for a general anxiety about media's role in our daily lives than it is about the rules.’
    • ‘In the colonial and early national era, common-man hunters opposed game laws not because they opposed saving game, but because they saw game laws as a stalking horse of aristocracy.’
    • ‘I know that there are individuals in both parties who are uncomfortable with certain aspects of this legislation, because they know, as I do, that this is a stalking horse for increasing the powers of the State.’
    • ‘Thus, whether your client should in fact come to the hearing unannounced or contract to become a stalking horse depends upon the nature of the asset being bought and the circumstances of the purchase.’
    • ‘Proffered concerns about underage drinking are thus merely a stalking horse for the financial interests at stake in these cases.’
    • ‘But nowadays movie production isn't so much a racket as a stalking horse for the real business of producing videos and cable TV rights.’
    • ‘But is this just a stalking horse to raise the state retirement age?’
    • ‘He doesn't seem too ruffled that he doesn't have the subpoena power, but he may be able to use these other panels who do have subpoena power as sort of stalking horses, and, eventually, there may be some pooling of information.’
    • ‘The Alliance raises the specter of Cape Wind as a stalking horse for at least three more large-scale wind farms in Nantucket Sound.’
    • ‘Conservative ideas play but a minor role in the account, and are themselves generally characterized as mere stalking horses for corporate interests.’
    • ‘The problem is that we become the meat in the sandwich or the stalking horse or whatever other metaphor you want to use in terms of where the real battle is, because our market is an open market.’
    • ‘But placebos do figure prominently in their studies - as a stalking-horse for the potential new medications.’
    • ‘But this legislation is a stalking horse for bringing the new filter of sustainability into legislation.’
    • ‘Referring to the application for an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, Mr Boyle said objectors feared the Meath incinerator was only a stalking horse for a far bigger incinerator in Cork.’
    1. 1.1 A political candidate who runs only in order to provoke the election and thus allow a stronger candidate to come forward.
      • ‘One observer said last night that he may be adopting the role of a stalking horse for the party, generating some momentum for change.’
      • ‘No one believes he has any chance of winning this election, but that is not the point - he is a stalking horse.’
      • ‘Some have charged that he is a political partisan - a stalking horse for Democrats.’
      • ‘The claim that she is acting as a stalking horse for the party is at once hysterical and far-fetched.’
      • ‘The best route for the Democrats is to sponsor me as stalking horse.’
      • ‘The theory, not unreasonably, is that he is a stalking horse, a puppet operated by bigger players.’
      • ‘The rumours persisted and grew throughout the day that he may move against the leader or that a stalking horse would do the work for him.’
      • ‘Is Dr. Bruce a stalking horse for the administration?’
      • ‘Last night party sources suggested a stalking horse candidate with little chance of winning could declare by July, drawing out other heavyweight figures who would not wish to be seen to be ‘wielding the dagger’.’
  • 2A screen traditionally made in the shape of a horse behind which a hunter can stay concealed when stalking prey.

    • ‘To creep upon the birds, however, it is often best, whatever the weapon, to employ a stalking horse — a curious affair of stuffed canvas painted like a horse;the fowler puts it in front of him and the ducks swimming in the pool are never scared at the gradual approach of a harmless animal; then "crack! sounds the caliver and you can pick up the dead birds on the water.’


Early 16th century: from the former practice of using a horse trained to allow a fowler to hide behind it, or under its coverings, until within easy range of prey.


stalking horse

/ˈstɔkɪŋ ˌhɔrs//ˈstôkiNG ˌhôrs/