Kocour není doma, myši mají pré

Czech Idioms - The cat is not at home, the mice have freedom

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.01.2012 13:24:42 (updated on 16.01.2012) Reading time: 1 minute

Today we will not ask if you have heard or seen a Czech idiom; we will just give you a suggestion of what to say during a situation that happens very often at work.

You must have experienced a time when your boss has gone on holiday or was out of the office, and suddenly you had a feeling you could finally breathe. You spoke to your colleagues about private issues, didn´t have to hurry back from lunch and you liked your work. Alternatively, maybe if you have children, have they ever had a party while you were on holiday?

In other words while the authority is not present, the people feel free and behave in a different way than they do when their work/life is under control. In such a case, we say KOCOUR NENÍ DOMA, MYŠÍ MAJÍ PRÉ (THE TOM CAT IS NOT AT HOME, THE MICE HAVE FREEDOM).

As it is in English “While the cat’s away, the mice will play”. Although in English, it is any cat, whereas in Czech it is only the male cat. I doubt that this has anything to do with American/British “political correctness” though.

Just a word of caution, the word “pré” is not a typical Czech word, and this idiom is probably the only time it is used. Most Czechs understand the meaning of the idiom, but if you asked them what “pré” means, the only thing they would have in their mind, thanks to the phonetic similarity, would be the provider of electricity. The origins are probably in both Latin and German, meaning to prefer ‘this’ to ‘that’.

If you’re considering a course to learn the Czech Language, you can find a great selection right here.

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