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When the cat's away...

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 02, 2010 at 17:01

In Reply to: When the cat's away... posted by Montgomery on July 02, 2010 at 15:40:

: Where did the expression "When the cat's away the mice will play" come from?

It's a very ancient idea. The first known use of its precise present form is in Heywood's play "A Woman Killed with Kindness", written in 1607, where it is described as "an old prouerbe". Shakespeare refers in "Henry V" to "playing the mouse in absence of the cat". And a text of 1470 in the Harleian Miscellany has "The mows lordchypythe [i.e. rules] ther a cat ys nawt". (VSD)