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cat and mouse

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.
Western U.S. tick-tack-toe (def 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.
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
1910-15 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for cat-and-mouse
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  • 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
  • Evidently, he must play the cat-and-mouse act about the piles of supplies and machinery.

    Panther Eye Roy J. Snell
  • She had been playing with him––playing with him cat-and-mouse fashion.

    Once to Every Man Larry Evans
  • 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.

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