Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

When the cat's away, the mice will play

When a person in authority is away, those under the person's rule will enjoy their freedom.

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with when the cat's away, the mice will play

when the cat's away, the mice will play

Without supervision, people will do as they please, especially in disregarding or breaking rules. For example, As soon as their parents left, the children invited all their friends over—when the cat's away, you know. This expression has been a proverb since about 1600 and is so well known it is often shortened, as in the example.

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.