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).
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