cat and mouse


      • a situation marked by deceit and evasion
        Describing a relationship or interaction where one party is constantly trying to outsmart or deceive the other, typically in a playful or teasing manner

      • a prolonged or elusive pursuit
        Referring to a situation where one party is constantly chasing or pursuing another, with the pursued party always managing to stay just out of reach

    Examples of cat and mouse

    • The criminal was playing a game of cat and mouse with the police as he repeatedly changed his hiding place, making it difficult for the cops to catch him.

      The use of the idiom "cat and mouse" here suggests a situation where the criminal is evading the police just like a mouse in a game with a cat, constantly changing his location so the police cannot find him.

    • The two friends often engaged in a playful game of cat and mouse, with one trying to surprise the other and the other trying to anticipate and avoid being caught.

      This idiom is used here in a lighthearted context to describe two friends engaging in a game of hiding and seeking, where one friend tries to catch the other like a predator trying to catch its prey.

    • The Secretary of Defense remarked that the country's defense policy would be like a game of cat and mouse, requiring constant vigilance and adaptation to stay one step ahead of potential threats.

      This use of the idiom "cat and mouse" in a political context hints at a situation where the enemy's actions are unpredictable and require a careful and cautious response from the country's defense forces, much like the way a cat must be vigilant in its pursuit of a cunning mouse.

    • The CEO of the company was aware that the new product rollout would be like a game of cat and mouse, with competitors watching their every move and trying to steal their ideas.

      This use of the idiom "cat and mouse" in a business context suggests a situation where the competition is working to counter the company's strategies, forcing them to respond quickly and innovatively to stay ahead of the curve, much like the way a cat must outsmart its elusive prey.

    • The police were playing a game of cat and mouse with the notorious thief, who kept evading their capture.

      The idiom 'cat and mouse' is used to describe any situation in which one person is persistently pursuing another who is trying to avoid being caught. In this example, the police are acting like a cat attempting to catch the thief, who is like a mouse evading their grasp.

    • The boss kept chasing his subordinate, making him feel like a mouse being hunted down by a cat.

      The idiom 'cat and mouse' is again used here, but this time, the subordinate is the mouse, and the boss is like a cat trying to trap him. This analogy is used to indicate the unequal power dynamic that exists between the two individuals, with the boss having the upper hand.

    • She ran from the shop, feeling like a mouse escaping from a furious cat.

      In this example, the speaker was escaping from a situation, comparing herself to a mouse and the danger she was fleeing from to a cat. This use of the idiom 'cat and mouse' illustrates the intensity of the danger that the speaker was facing and the urgency with which she was trying to escape it.

    • The politician was adept at playing the game of cat and mouse with the media, fending off their questions with evasive answers.

      In this final example, the politician is compared to a cat, who is cleverly avoiding the questions asked by the media, who are like mice trying to trap him. The idiom 'cat and mouse' is used to illustrate the skill with which the politician is avoiding being caught and the media's attempts to scrutinize him.


    The idiom "cat and mouse" can be used to describe a situation of deceit and evasion or a prolonged and elusive pursuit. In the first context, it signifies a playful or teasing relationship where one party is always trying to outsmart the other. In the second context, it represents a chase where the pursued party manages to stay just out of reach.

    Overall, the idiom is often used to describe interactions characterized by cunning tactics, strategic maneuvering, and a sense of unpredictability. It conveys a sense of tension and excitement, as well as the idea of a constant back-and-forth dynamic between the parties involved.

    Origin of "cat and mouse"

    The origin of the idiom "cat and mouse" can be traced back to the behavior of actual cats and mice. Cats are known for their hunting instincts and agility, while mice are known for their quick reflexes and ability to evade capture. This natural dynamic between the two animals has been reflected in human language and culture.

    The phrase "cat and mouse" was first recorded in English in the mid-16th century, appearing in various literary works and expressions. Over time, it has become a widely recognized idiom used to describe situations of cunning, deception, and pursuit. The idiom's enduring popularity can be attributed to its vivid imagery and relatability, as well as its ability to capture the complexities of human relationships and interactions.