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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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
play cat and mouse
1. To engage in a suspenseful relationship in which one is being pursued and one is the pursuer. The marshals and the fugitive have been playing cat and mouse for months now, but they may finally have him cornered.
2. To play with or tease someone before turning violent or vicious, likened to the way a cat toys with a mouse before killing it. If we have any hopes of getting the prisoner to crack, we need to play cat and mouse now, in the early stages of the interrogation.
3. To play a game in which children stand in a circle and raise their arms to let one player into the middle and then 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!
1. noun, slang Something that is trivial or insignificant. All I ever do at this job is a lot of mickey mouse.
2. noun, slang A police officer. You hear those sirens? Mickey mouse is getting closer—we need to move it.
3. noun, slang A small piece of paper containing LSD and imprinted with an image of Mickey Mouse. Got any mickey mouse I can buy?
4. adjective, slang Trivial or insignificant. She needs to get a real job instead of wasting time with this mickey mouse internship.
(as) poor as a church mouse
Very poor; having little or no money. My father was as poor as a church mouse growing up, so his sole focus was to give his kids every opportunity in life that he missed out on. We've become poor as church mice ever since the bank raised the interest rates on our mortgage.
(as) quiet as a mouse
Silent, meek, and gentle. I just can't believe that Kate actually yelled at Mike—she's usually as quiet as a mouse! We remained as quiet as mice to avoid being detected by the guards.
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."
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.
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!
*poor as a church mouseand *poor as church mice
very poor. (*Also: as ~.) My aunt is as poor as a church mouse. The Browns are poor as church mice.
*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.
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.
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]
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.
play cat and mouseor
play a game of cat and mouse
COMMON In a contest or dispute, if one person or side plays cat and mouse or plays a game of cat and mouse with another, the first person or side tries to confuse or deceive the second in order to defeat them. He would play cat and mouse with other riders, sometimes waiting until the fourth lap to come from behind and win. A diplomatic game of cat and mouse is being played between the United Nations and the warring factions in the region. Note: You can also talk about a cat and mouse game or a cat and mouse chase or use other nouns in this way. Amos played a cat and mouse game with officers for several hours. They were arrested after a cat-and-mouse chase through the fields. Note: The reference here is to a cat playing with a mouse before killing it.
poor as a church mouseOLD-FASHIONED
If someone is as poor as a church mouse, they have very little money. I was as poor as a church mouse, but I bought that wreck of a car. I suspect we'll continue to be poor as church mice. Note: Mice living in a church are unlikely to find much to eat as there is no kitchen or food cupboard.
quiet as a mouse
If someone is quiet as a mouse, they are very quiet or silent. During the day Mom was quiet as a mouse. She hardly said or did anything. We were quiet as mice, hiding in there.
play cat and mouse withmanoeuvre in a way designed alternately to provoke and thwart an opponent.
The image here is of the way that a cat toys with a mouse, pretending to release it and then pouncing on it again.
poor as a church mouse (or as church mice)extremely poor.
Church mice may be considered to be particularly poor or deprived in that they do not have the opportunity to find pickings from a kitchen or larder.
quiet as a mouse (or lamb)(of a person or animal) extremely quiet or docile.
1982 Robertson Davies The Rebel Angels I shall be as quiet as a mouse. I'll just tuck my box…in this corner, right out of your way.
(play) cat and ˈmouse (with somebody)(informal) (keep somebody) in a state of uncertainty, being sometimes kind, sometimes cruel: The police were playing cat and mouse with him; letting him feel safe in the hope that he would make a mistake and then they could arrest him. ♢ The authorities have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the protestors.
This expression refers to the way a cat plays with a mouse before killing it.
(as) poor as a church ˈmousevery poor: She was as poor as a church mouse, living on a tiny pension. OPPOSITE: (as) rich as Croesus
(as) quiet as a ˈmouse(of a person) saying very little or making very little noise: He’s quiet as a mouse in class. ♢ Be as quiet as a mouse when you go upstairs — the baby’s asleep in our bedroom.
bald-headed hermitand 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.
See also: mouse
one-eyed pants mouseverb
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.