Monday, February 6, 2012


Pussyfoot \POOS-ee-foot\ , verb;
1. To go or move in stealthy or cautious manner
2. To act cautiously or timidly, as if afraid to commit oneself on a point at issue
1. A person with a catlike, or soft and stealthy, tread
2. British: A teetotaler or prohibitionist

This word is first attested in 1910 from pussy + foot with influence from the earlier pussy-footed ("light-footed" or "excessively cautious or hesitant").

The thing that surprised me about this word was the teetotaler meaning. Apparently it was the nickname of an American magistrate, W.E. Johnson, who supported Prohibition. His "stealthy methods," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, earned him the nickname.

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