• WordNet 3.6
    • n catgut a strong cord made from the intestines of sheep and used in surgery
    • n catgut perennial subshrub of eastern North America having downy leaves yellowish and rose flowers and; source of rotenone
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The catgut formerly used as strings in tennis rackets and musical instruments does not come from cats. Catgut actually comes from sheep, hogs, and horses.
    • Catgut A cord of great toughness made from the intestines of animals, esp. of sheep, used for strings of musical instruments, etc.
    • Catgut A sort of linen or canvas, with wide interstices.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Catgut comes from sheep not cats.
    • n catgut The intestines of sheep (sometimes of the horse, the ass, or the mule), dried and twisted, used for strings of musical instruments and for other purposes; a string of this kind.
    • n catgut A sort of linen or canvas with wide interstices.
    • n catgut A name for one of the olive seaweeds, Chorda filum, which is allied to Laminaria. The plant Tephrosia Virginiana: so called on account of its long, slender, and very tough roots.
    • n catgut catgut impregnated with chromic acid, in consequence of which it is less quickly absorbed when used for sutures or ligatures in surgical operations.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Catgut a kind of cord made from the intestines of animals, and used as strings for violins, harps, guitars, &c., the cords of clock-makers, &c.: the violin or other stringed instrument: a coarse corded cloth
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Cat, + gut,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. cat; found also in Celt., Slav., Ar., Finn, &c.


In literature:

And the answer is: Because the catgut on the racquet.
"The Radio Boys at the Sending Station" by Allen Chapman
Sterilised silk and catgut for sutures.
"The Elements of Bacteriological Technique" by John William Henry Eyre
Two small girls are scraping doleful strains from the sad catgut of violins nearly as big as themselves.
"The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 121, November, 1867" by Various
Do you think I can't scrape catgut as well as Pere Paragot?
"The Belovéd Vagabond" by William J. Locke
They should be of catgut, and if you tune them in unison, the sound will be sweeter than if they are tuned in thirds or fifths.
"Harper's Young People, April 6, 1880" by Various
A simple hygrometer can be made by a piece of catgut and a straw.
"Harper's Young People, August 17, 1880" by Various
Ods catgut and fiddlesticks!
"The Bow, Its History, Manufacture and Use" by Henry Saint-George
I hear Mrs. Catgut has some of the prettiest caps arrived you ever saw.
"The Contrast" by Royall Tyler
The banjoes was made of round pieces of wood, civered with sheepskin and strung with catgut strings.
"Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves" by Work Projects Administration
Fiddlers, to your catgut!
"The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume XV" by Robert Louis Stevenson