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[poo s-ee-foo t] /ˈpʊs iˌfʊt/

verb (used without object)
to go or move in a stealthy or cautious manner.
to act cautiously or timidly, as if afraid to commit oneself on a point at issue.
noun, plural pussyfoots.
a person with a catlike, or soft and stealthy, tread.
Chiefly British. a teetotaler or prohibitionist.
verb (intransitive)
to move about stealthily or warily like a cat
to avoid committing oneself
noun (pl) -foots
a person who pussyfoots

also pussy-foot, 1903, “tread softly,” from pussy (n.1) + foot (n.). As a noun from 1911, “a detective,” American English, from the nickname of U.S. government Indian Affairs agent W.E. Johnson (1862-1945), in charge of suppressing liquor traffic on Indian reservations in Oklahoma, who was noted for his stealthy tactics. Related: Pussyfooting; pussy-footed (1893).

v,v phr

To be careful and hesitant; be evasive; tergiversate; beat around the bush: Please stop pussyfooting and get to the point

[1903+; fr the nickname of W E Johnson, given because of his catlike stealth as a law-enforcement officer in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma); Johnson became a famous advocate of Prohibition, and the term briefly meant ”prohibitionist”]


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