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cat-and-mouse game

1. A situation characterized by two parties engaged in a constant back-and-forth routine in which the advantage alternates between them. It's been a real cat-and-mouse game between these two teams—we won't be sure of the victory until the very last moment!
2. A situation characterized by two parties engaged in a constant back-and-forth routine in which one party attempts to gain tactical advantage over or draw out of hiding the other, often only to be thwarted or eluded. Police have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with drug dealers in this area for years now.
See also: game

dust mouse

A small accumulation of dust and lint, as found behind or under furniture. Also called a "dust bunny" or "dust ball." I was appalled by the amount of dust mice that were behind the sofa when we moved it from the corner of the room.
See also: dust, mouse

cat and mouse

1. A phrase used to describe the suspenseful relationship between one being pursued and the pursuer. We've been hiding out here for days, and I can't handle this cat and mouse game any longer—I'm calling the police!
2. A phrase that describes how one plays with or teases someone before turning violent or vicious, likened to the way in which a cat toys with a mouse before killing it. If we have any hopes of getting the prisoner to crack, we need to play a cat and mouse game now, in the early stages of the interrogation.
3. A game in which children stand in a circle and raise their arms to let one player into the middle. Then, they lower their arms to keep out a second player, who is chasing the first. Let's play cat and mouse! I'll go first—everybody else, circle up!
See also: and, cat, mouse

Mickey Mouse around

To play or fool around, rather than engaging in serious activities. The phrase refers to the Walt Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Would you quit Mickey Mousing around and take this work seriously? Pete is funny, but he Mickey Mouses around too much for my liking.
See also: around, mickey, mouse

Are you a man or a mouse?

A phrase of encouragement, typically in situations where courage is required. You have to confront your co-workers if they're mistreating you. Come on, are you a man or a mouse?
See also: man

be (as) quiet as a mouse

To be silent and meek. I just can't believe that Kate actually yelled at Mike—she's as quiet as a mouse! I always tell my young son that he needs to be quiet as a mouse during the church service.
See also: mouse, quiet

burn not your house to fright the mouse away

Do not overreact to a minor problem by taking drastic measures. It's just a minor leak—we don't need to tear open the kitchen to fix it. Burn not your house to fright the mouse away.
See also: away, burn, fright, house, mouse, not

Burn not your house to fright the mouse away.

Prov. Do not do something drastic when it is not necessary. Ellen: I don't like the shape of my nose; I think I'll have surgery to make it look better. Jane: But you can make your nose look better just by using different makeup. Don't burn your house to fright the mouse away. When someone pointed out a small flaw in Bob's latest painting, Bob wanted to tear the whole painting to shreds. "Now, now, Bob," his friends said, "burn not your house to fright the mouse away."
See also: away, burn, fright, house, mouse, not

mouse that has but one hole is quickly taken

Prov. It is dangerous to always depend on just one thing, because if it fails you, you will not have any alternatives. Don't put all your money in a single bank account. The mouse that has but one hole is quickly taken.
See also: but, hole, mouse, one, quickly, taken

play cat and mouse with someone

Fig. to be coy and evasive with someone. I know what you are up to. Don't play cat and mouse with me! I wish that they wouldn't play cat and mouse with me!
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

*poor as a church mouse

 and *poor as church mice
very poor. (*Also: as ~.) My aunt is as poor as a church mouse. The Browns are poor as church mice.
See also: church, mouse, poor

*quiet as a (church) mouse and *quiet as the grave

very quiet. (*Also: as ~.) You'd better be as quiet as a mouse while Grandma takes her nap so you won't wake her up. This town is quiet as the grave now that the factories have closed.
See also: and, grave, mouse, quiet

play (a game of) cat and mouse

1. to repeatedly try to make someone react in a way that will cause them problems Enemy warplanes have been playing a deadly game of cat and mouse, trying to bring American fighter planes into range of their missiles.
2. to try to find someone who is hiding from you Border agents played cat and mouse with people trying to enter the country illegally.
Etymology: based on the way a cat plays with a mouse before killing it
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

Are you a man or a mouse?

something that you say in order to encourage someone to be brave when they are frightened to do something Just tell your boss that you think she's making the wrong decision: what are you, a man or a mouse?
See also: man


not important or not good compared with other things of the same type (always before noun) We're talking about a respected organization here - not some Mickey-Mouse outfit.

play cat and mouse

to try to defeat someone by tricking them into making a mistake so that you have an advantage over them (often + with ) The 32-year-old actress spent a large proportion of the week playing cat and mouse with the press.
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

be as quiet as a mouse

to be very quiet She was as quiet as a mouse. I didn't even know she'd come in.
See also: mouse, quiet

play cat and mouse

Amuse oneself or trifle with, toy with, as in She loved to play cat and mouse with an admirer, acting by turns friendly, indifferent, and jealous . The analogy of a cat toying with a helpless mouse was drawn centuries earlier, but the precise term dates only from the early 1900s.
See also: and, cat, mouse, play

poor as a churchmouse

Having little or no wealth and few possessions, as in She's poor as a churchmouse, so you can't expect her to donate anything. The reason for this long-used simile is unclear, but most believe that, since churches are not known for storing food, a mouse inside one would fare poorly. It has survived such earlier phrases as poor as Job. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: poor

quiet as a mouse

Also, still as a mouse. Silent, without noise, as in She sneaked into the house, quiet as a mouse, or When he heard the news he was still as a mouse. The first of these similes dates from the mid-1500s, the second from the 1300s.
See also: mouse, quiet

bald-headed hermit

and bald-headed mouse and one-eyed pants mouse
n. the penis. (Usually objectionable.) Somebody said something about the attack of the one-eyed pants mouse, and all the boys howled with laughter. Although “bald-headed hermit” gave her mental images of Ghandi on vacation, she soon figured out the riddle.

bald-headed mouse

See also: mouse

one-eyed pants mouse

See also: mouse, pant

mickey mouse

1. n. nonsense; something trivial. (From the world-famous mouse character by the same name, owned by The Walt Disney Company.) This is just a lot of mickey mouse.
2. mod. trivial; time wasting; lousy. I want out of this mickey mouse place.
3. n. a police officer. (Streets.) Mickey mouse is hanging around asking about you.
4. n. a bit of blotter impregnated with LSD with a picture of The Walt Disney Company’s Mickey Mouse on it. (Drugs.) How much is the mickey mouse?
See also: mickey, mouse

mickey mouse ears

n. the two lights found on top of a police car. (This is the older form of emergency lights. A bar of lights with varying functions is now the norm in towns and cities.) There were no mickey mouse ears, but the jerk inside looked like your average ossifer.
See also: ear, mickey, mouse

mickey mouse habit

n. a trivial drug habit. (Drugs.) Nothing to it. Just a little mickey mouse habit. I can stop any time I want.
See also: habit, mickey, mouse

mouse potato

n. someone who spends a great amount of time using a computer. (Based on couch potato.) Every since we go the new computer, Jane has turned into a regular mouse potato.
See also: mouse, potato

word of mouse

n. a message spread by email. (Contrived. Refers to a computer mouse. A play on word of mouth.) A lot of these jokes are spread by word of mouse.
See also: mouse, of, word