cat and mouse

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cat and mouse (uncountable)

  1. A relationship in which two parties closely monitor and challenge one another in a suspicious or self-protective manner, often because each party is attempting to gain an advantage over the other.
    The Allied and the enemy submarine played a game of cat and mouse, checking up on each other's whereabouts and strategies.
    The hackers played a cat and mouse game with the system administrators: the hackers kept trying new tricks, and the system administrators kept mounting electronic defenses.
    • 2007, Marvin J. Levine, Worker Rights and Labor Standards in Asia’s Four New Tigers:
      In practice, however, it is extremely difficult to form a new union and the unions are engaged in a constant game of cat and mouse with the Registrar.
    • 2014, Alison Weir, The Marriage Game:
      She loved their daily rides, the easy banter, the flirtatious game of cat and mouse they played.
  2. A form of attack in which the attacker toys with the victim by inflicting minor damage or letting the victim have futile hopes of escape before finally finishing the victim off.
    • 2009, Judith C. Issette, Messenger of Death, page 34:
      He was thinking how wonderful this game of cat and mouse was. He loved the game and the feeling of control he had over this poor innocent girl.
    • 2009, Jarlon Magee, Travel in Fear:
      The payback for that would come in the form of a prolonged game of cat and mouse, finally culminating in a deadly game that he had perfected years earlier.
    • 2014, Mark Derbyshire, New Worlds, page 30:
      She told of narrow escapes and a harried game of cat and mouse, until eventually she'd reached the darkened jungle in which Torys had found her.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often preceded by the verb play.


See also[edit]

Proper noun[edit]

cat and mouse

  1. A children's game in which one player (the "cat") attempts to break through a ring of players to catch another player (the "mouse") in the centre.


cat and mouse (third-person singular simple present cat and mouses, present participle cat and mousing, simple past and past participle cat and moused)

  1. Alternative form of cat-and-mouse
    • 1931, John Collis Snaith, Indian Summer, page 39:
      And I've made up my mind not to be cat and moused any more.
    • 1965, Anthony Boucher, The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, page 193:
      She was attractive in her white uniform and Brown had cat and moused her for a long time without real enthusiasm.
    • 1967, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Ways and Means, Legislative History of H.R. 6950: 90th Congress, to Restore the Investment Credit and the Allowance of Accelerated Depreciation in the Case of Certain Real Property.:
      I am tired of being cat and moused, and for that reason I expect to vote against proposals which I am in favor of in principle, until we can have hearings on them, to determine whether they are economically viable and constitutionally sustainable.
    • 1971, Chess Life & Review - Volume 26, page 441:
      ...K-Rl 30 N-B6, the game would be over unless we have more cat and mousing by 30 .
    • 2011, Max Hobby, Oshgomshee and the Princess Syleen:
      Careful not to draw deep blood, I cat and moused him for another moment or two as the audience stared in awe.