Definition of stalking horse in English:

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stalking horse

Pronunciation: /ˈstôkiNG ˌhôrs/


1A screen traditionally made in the shape of a horse behind which a hunter can stay concealed when stalking prey.
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.1A false pretext concealing someone’s real intentions.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.2A political candidate who runs only in order to provoke the election and thus allow a stronger candidate to come forward.
Example sentences
  • 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’.
  • 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.


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.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stalk·ing horse

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