What Does Quiet As A Mouse Mean?

Quiet As A Mouse Meaning

Definition: To be extremely quiet.

Origin of Quiet As A Mouse

This idiom might seem confusing to someone who has heard a mouse squeaking, since mice can actually be quite loud. However, mice have long enjoyed a reputation as being especially quiet.

It’s possible this comes from the fact that when a predator is on the prowl, such as a cat, mice tend to be as still and quiet as possible.

For this same reason, there is a similar expression: still as a mouse, which dates back to the 1300s. Quiet as a mouse originated a little later, in the 1500s or 1600s.

Both versions were approximately equally popular until the first half of the 1900s, at which point quiet as a mouse began to take a larger lead.

Nowadays, quiet as a mouse is more than twice as popular.

Examples of Quiet As A Mouse

be as quiet as a mouse In the following example, two friends are doing some research in a library.

Kerry: So, what are you up to this weekend?

Christine: Kerry, shhhh! You are so loud. We’re in a library, so you have to whisper.

Kerry: Really? I do most of my research online, so I’ve never really been in a library. I just assumed that being quiet in a library was just a thing people did in the movies. I didn’t think that actually happened in real life.

Christine: Of course it happens in real life. Just be careful and lower your voice.

Kerry: Okay, fine! I’ll be as quiet as a mouse.

Christine: Thank you!

quiet as a church mouse In this dialogue, two friends are visiting one of their parents for an overnight stay.

Arlena: I’m so glad you could join me at my parents’ house over the holiday weekend!

Nyima: Me too! It’s cool to finally meet your parents. They go to bed really early. Should we go to bed too, so that we don’t wake them up?

Arlena: No, that’s not necessary. We can go watch TV in the basement, and they won’t hear us at all. We just have to be careful to be as quiet as a mouse while we are walking down the stairs. All the sounds in the stairway easily carry up to their room.

Nyima: Okay, I’ll be as quiet as I can!

More Examples

The example below is from a travel article about Belize.

  • But beachy, mangrovey, 25-mile-long, mile-wide Ambergris is quiet as a mouse. The most danger you’ll encounter in bustling, 13,000-soul San Pedro, the caye’s only town, is getting your foot run over by a tipsy driver on a golf cart (the main form of transport). –New York Post

This excerpt is about a car that runs very quietly.

  • MINI has also worked wonders with sound deadening, as this little bulldog is quiet as a mouse on the highway. –New York Daily News

Summary

The phrase quiet as a mouse means to be as silent as possible.

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