An idiom a day keeps your English okay! In this series we examine English idioms and teach you how to use them.
When the Cat’s Away, the Mice Will Play
Mice is the plural form of mouse. In the Tom and Jerry cartoons the mouse is able to defeat the cat, but in real life a cat will normally catch and kill a mouse. But when the cat is asleep in front of the fire (=away), it’s safe for the mice in the field to run around and have fun (=play).
How to Use It
It’s often used in a situation where a boss is not in the office, or parents are out of the house. During those times, the workers/children will relax, play games, or do things they shouldn’t do.
*office chair racing
* children misbehaving
Real Life Examples
– Hey, why are you looking on Facebook?
– Why not?
– You’re at work.
– Oh, well Jack is on holiday this week. When the cat’s away…
– I thought Facebook was blocked. Show me how to get on it.
– We need to get a babysitter for Thursday night.
– We’re going to that dinner party.
– The kids will be fine. They’re old enough to look after themselves.
– That’s what I’m worried about.
– When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
– Let them have some fun.
– Maybe you’re right. They can invite their friends and drink all that premium beer you bought.
– What’s the babysitter’s phone number?