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verb (used without object)
  1. to go or move in a stealthy or cautious manner.
  2. to act cautiously or timidly, as if afraid to commit oneself on a point at issue.
noun, plural puss·y·foots.
  1. a person with a catlike, or soft and stealthy, tread.
  2. Chiefly British. a teetotaler or prohibitionist.

Origin of pussyfoot

An Americanism dating back to 1890–95; pussy1 + foot

Synonyms for pussyfoot

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pussyfoot


verb (intr)
  1. to move about stealthily or warily like a cat
  2. to avoid committing oneself
noun plural -foots
  1. a person who pussyfoots
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pussyfoot

also pussy-foot, 1903, "tread softly," from pussy (n.1) + foot (n.). As a noun from 1911, "a detective," American English, from the nickname of U.S. government Indian Affairs agent W.E. Johnson (1862-1945), in charge of suppressing liquor traffic on Indian reservations in Oklahoma, who was noted for his stealthy tactics. Related: Pussyfooting; pussy-footed (1893).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper