cat and mouse

noun
  1. Also called cat and rat. a children's game in which players in a circle keep a player from moving into or out of the circle and permit a second player to move into or out of the circle to escape the pursuing first player.
  2. Western U.S. tick-tack-toe(def 1).
Idioms
  1. play cat and mouse, to engage in a gamelike relationship in which evasion and pursuit are used: They played cat and mouse for a while before she consented to go out with him.
  2. play cat and mouse with,
    1. to toy or trifle with.
    2. to use strategy on one's opponent, especially while waiting to strike: The detective played cat and mouse with the suspect.

Origin of cat and mouse

First recorded in 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cat and mouse

Contemporary Examples of cat and mouse

  • So Western governments are caught in a cat-and-mouse game and at times it is unclear who is the cat and who the mouse.

    The Daily Beast logo
    ISIS Has a Message. Do We?

    Jamie Dettmer

    December 8, 2014

  • He became suspicious and so began what he refers to as a “cat-and-mouse game” between him and his former agency.

  • The revelations in October began a game of cat-and-mouse between the Demon Killer and the police.

    The Daily Beast logo
    ‘I Will Commit a Massacre’

    Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

    February 25, 2013

  • Meanwhile, I don't know what happens to the employees, who are the mouse in this cat-and-mouse game.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Counting Full Time Employees

    Megan McArdle

    January 18, 2013

  • Lipkin-Shahak was no stranger to the cat-and-mouse dynamic that has so often kept the Middle East in a chokehold.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Saying Goodbye To Lipkin-Shahak

    Mira Sucharov

    December 19, 2012

Historical Examples of cat and mouse

  • She had been playing with him––playing with him cat-and-mouse fashion.

  • Evidently, he must play the cat-and-mouse act about the piles of supplies and machinery.

    Panther Eye

    Roy J. Snell

  • At least, I haven't got that cat-and-mouse kind of patience.

    Regiment of Women

    Clemence Dane

  • It was like playing a game of cat-and-mouse with him, Wilson Lamb, the cat.

  • Did it mean that, after all, he had been playing at cat-and-mouse with her, as she had at first feared?

    The White Moll

    Frank L. Packard