View synonyms for cat and mouse

cat and mouse

[ kat uhn mous ]


  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.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cat and mouse1

First recorded in 1910–15

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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Example Sentences

Review fraud is something of a cat and mouse game, in which shady but increasingly sophisticated fraudsters try to stay one step ahead of platform algorithms.

As with all user-generated content platforms, the game of online content moderation cat and mouse is never ending.

From Digiday

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.

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.

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

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

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

I thought the agony was over, but I didn't give Small credit for cat-and-mouse tendencies.

How much longer are you going to keep up this fiendish cat-and-mouse sort of game?

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

It was a sort of defiance that he was throwing at me, an ultimatum that I should either end my cat-and-mouse game, or let him go.


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.