Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rat n.1

1. with ref. to negative stereotypes of the animal which in nature possesses none of these characteristics.

(a) an unpleasant person.

[UK]Shakespeare Richard III V iii: These famish’d Beggers [...] Who [...] For want of meanes (poore Rats) had hang’d themselues.
[UK]J. Cooke How A Man May Choose A Good Wife From A Bad Act II: When didst thou see the starueling School-maister? That Rat, that Shrimp, that Spindle-shank.
[UK]Rowley & Shakespeare Birth of Merlin (1662) III i: Peace you pernicious Rat.
[UK]R. Brome A Novella I ii: Who else, you Rat?
[Ire]Head Art of Wheedling 202: He will venture his money among those of his own profession, and then cheat that cheat can; these of late are called Rats [...] the winner then according to the term of Art, says, he hath bit of such a Rats tail.
[UK]D’Urfey Comical Hist. of Don Quixote Pt 3 II i: A Sneak, a Mortgaging Rat.
[UK] ‘Good Neighbour Why Look Awry’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) IV 169: Go dress those Brats, those nasty Rats, / That have a Lear so drowzy.
[UK]R. King Modern London Spy 38: Men taken up for assaults or night-brawls were termed Rats, and the harlots or women [...] were there called Mice, and at locking up hours, crammed into a hole.
[Ire]W. Carleton Traits and Stories of Irish Peasantry III 337: Hell purshue her, the ould rat-thrap! Was ever any one done as I am? Who is she?
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 28 June n.p.: The old rats [...] had better make him an honorary member of their society.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 158/2: Wat! that the-ir littil rat?
[UK]Morpeth Herald 30 Mar. 6/3: ‘You old rat,’ he hissed.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Apr. 17/4: Somebody behind caught him by the collar, and hauled him back […]. ‘Cum out uv that, yu rat. It’s like yer blazin’ cheek to be crowdin’ in afore a man. Cum out,’ growled his assailant.
[US]Lantern (New Orleans, LA) 22 Jan. 3: In such good luk as dat rat Pat Malloy?
[UK]Magnet 7 Mar. 5: You confounded, cheeky rat!
[UK]H.G. Wells Hist. of Mr Polly (1946) 213: Come out of it, you pockmarked Rat!
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 271: Two or more persons were left to guard the entrance. As the rat entered so would he emerge; logical enough.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 217: You’ll find it beyond a joke, you miserable little rat [...] if you speak to me like that.
[US]E.C.L. Adams Congaree Sketches 19: I ain’t axed de ole she rat to pray for me.
[US]C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: ‘Sock him once, Francis [...] and toss the rat out into the alley’.
[US]Lonnie Johnson ‘Men, Get Wise To Yourself’ 🎵 It’s just some no-good rat showin’ her the place, where she don’t need a man like you.
[Aus]Braidwood Review (NSW) 20 Dec. 4/1: ‘I’m the chap your husband called a sneak-thief, a gutter rat’.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 20: Jesus! Is this little rat going to say he’s got no money?
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 79: Arr, that bugger, I ain’t got no time for him. Nasty, sneaking little rat, talkin’ that smooth you could knock his face in.
[US]C. McCullers Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1986) 277: You pasty-faced, shrunk-gutted, ricket-ridden little rats!
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 224: The Commissioner liked his moral simplicity. When he said rat, he meant rat, with no qualifications or extenuations.
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 148: Rats, vermin, they’ve done the dirty on us.
[UK]J.R. Ackerley We Think The World Of You (1971) 39: He says she thinks the world of me now, the little rat.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 141: Woods grabbed Grafter’s arm. ‘You’re a thieving rat, Kingsley,’ he almost screamed.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 96: I was beginning to think that ‘Sweet’ was only half rat.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 22: These kind of people had to steal to make it. There was no way in hell these rats could hold a job.
[UK]‘Hergé’ Tintin and the Picaros 29: The dirty rat! I’ll have him eaten alive by red ants.
[WI]M. Thelwell Harder They Come 369: Maybe the little rat didn’t really know that Rhygin had been in the hut.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper From The Inside 204: There was one rat who smashed me over the head with an iron bar in St Kilda in the late 1977.
[UK]Observer Rev. 4 July 11: Get lost, you fucking little rat.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 7 Feb. 8: Love Rat QC Had Rumpo.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 79: He promises [...] to find the rat who is spreading the rumor.
[Aus]A. Nette Orphan Road 128: ‘Rats?’ Whispered Eva. ‘Yes, of the two-legged variety’.

(b) a turncoat, a person who changes allegiance out of self-interest; thus the act of changing allegiance (see cite 1906).

Aurora (Phila., PA) 22 Aug. n.p.: A great big Rat, John Lawrence, Esq., has resigned his seat as a senator from New-York in the Senate of the U.S.
Satirist 10 Apr. 5/3: From their Burrows smoked out, / The rats all of them shout, / ‘We’re dish’d, curse the colours of Grey!’.
[UK]Lytton Alice V 89: Political faction loves converts better even than consistent adherents. A man’s rise in life generally dates from a well-timed rat.
[Scot]C.K. Sharpe letter June Correspondence (1888) I 530: Amphibious somethings, neither Tory nor Whig; rats long ago, so never to be trusted.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 198: The late Sir Robert Peel was called the rat, or the tamworth ratcatcher, for altering his views on the Roman Catholic question. From rats deserting vessels about to sink.
Stanhope Hist. of England vii 315: The word rat (both the noun and the verb) was just ... levelled at the converts to the Government of George the First, but had by degrees obtained a wider meaning, and come to be applied to any sudden and mercenary change in politics [F&H].
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Apr. 5/1: Mr. F. M. lnnes [...] is an able scholar and good orator. As a politician he is despised, and known as ‘the rat.’ This is because on one evening he as leader of the Opposition denounced the policy of the Government and at next sitting of the Assembly was found, much to the surprise of his late supporters, sitting among the Ministry with a portfolio on his knee.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ Punch 15 Aug. 76: I’m blowed if this bunkum don’t make me inclined to turn Radical rat.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 June 1/4: Don’t break your hearts becase a ‘Rat’ / I’ve turned.
[Aus]‘Dads Wayback’ in Sun. Times (Sydney) 2 Aug. 3/4: ‘“[T]he rats,” “the windbags,” the self seekers [...] they earn only our contempt’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Mar. 1/1: The attitude of Rason and Co. is a satire on their immigration rat.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 28 Sept. [synd. col.] One of the nags (annoyed at the indifference of his brethren to winning a race) became a rat and romped in for a few Firsts.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 92: By Jeez, I’m gonna do bloody Heaver, the yeller rat, when I see him.

(c) an informer, a tell-tale; also attrib.

[UK]‘Thomas Brown’ Fudge Family in Paris Letter VI 56: Give me the useful peaching Rat.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 28 June n.p.: I advise this old rat to be careful how he talks about respectable females.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 93/2: Wy, t’ blarsted leetle rat [...] ef I thowt that ’e wur a ‘nose’ and put t’ blokes awa’, I would punch ’is ‘sheeny’ snotter’.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 389: He’s a rat – a spy.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 65: Rat, an informer.
[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 137: These detestable rats (stool-pigeons) who [...] lived in Easy Street while in stir.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 159: Rats, who was well-named, many declared, being suspected of ‘stooling for the coppers and swearing many a right guy into the boob’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Holy War’ in Chisholm (1951) 76: A crooked crook is Spike amongst the crooks, / A rat, ’oo’d come the double on ’is friends.
[UK]D. Ahearn How to Commit a Murder 30: I wouldn’t squeal on any cop, it ain’ in me to be a rat. Squealing on anybody is being a rat.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 196: Not a few find themselves harboring a ‘rat’ who only awaits an opportunity to turn stool pigeon.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 108: And take a chance on you turning rat and saying it was my knife that killed him?
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 43: That gringo bastard will die squealing like the rat he is.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 77: Some white dude in the West block . . . says you’re a rat.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 296: If you turn two cops in you’re a fuckin’ stool pigeon rat bastard, that’s what you are.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 640: What does a rat look like when he’s listening to himself being a rat in a room full of people who know he’s a rat—going wired to see his girlfriend?
[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 245: Twenty-five to life would turn any motherfucker into a rat.
[US]Mad mag. Sept. 23: So what tid-bits can you tell me? What do you want to know for? You’re not a rat, are you?
Simon & Burne ‘A New Day’ Wire ser. 4 ep. 11 [TV script] You ain’t gonna stand by no rat motherfucker, are you?
[US](con. 1962) E. Bunker Stark 13: Being a rat, a stool pigeon for the cops, was not a role he enjoyed.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 258: Either I’m part of the bust, or I’m a rat.
[US]Mother Jones July/Aug. 🌐 The floor orderly who protects his reputation by loudly proclaiming that rats deserve to get stabbed.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Old Scores [ebook] ‘I’m not going to mourn a rat. But as chief of the CIB, one of my own getting murdered – that’s a case that’s going to be solved’.
[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 248: ‘You’re not a rat, are you, Lucic? You wouldn’t rat us out to the media’.

(d) a bailiff, a sheriff’s officer.

[UK]Annals of Sporting 1 Mar. 200: The town rats, thinking they had already manifested indulgence enough, interfered and put a stop to further proceedings.

(e) (US) a worker who undercuts standards established by unionized labour.

[US]N.Y. Daily Sentinel 13 Mar. 2/3: PRINTING. [...] [While] the master printers [fill] their offices with boys and two-thirds men, alias ‘rats,’ it will be difficult to find a remedy.
[UK]Sportsman 5 Feb. 2/2: Notes on News [...] [Thye] do not choose to be members of the [Printers’] Union —choose, in fact, to become ‘rats’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 May 2/3: Newcastle women are thrashing ‘rats’.
[US]J.A. Riis How the Other Half Lives 137: The accusation that he lives like the ‘rat’ he is, cutting down wages by his underpaid labor, he throws back in the teeth of the trades unions.

(f) a cunning, deceitful person.

[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 6 n.p.: Now these ‘old rats’ who leave their wives at home at midnight sleeping / And after other women roam.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 6 Apr. n.p.: The rats who are employed in this office have the honor to be under the superintendance of [...] Balderdash Bamboozle Hoax, Esq.
[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 12 Oct. 6/4: The old rat has been more ly since I wrote you last.
[US] S. Crane ‘The Landlady’s Daughter’ in Stallman (1966) 10: Oh you old rat! Maybe you don’t know who he means!

(g) (orig. Aus.) a street urchin.

[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 47: They rose on hands and knees and crept to where it lay: Jago rats both.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Push’ in Moods of Ginger Mick 40: There is Privit Snifty Thompson, ’oo wus once a Sydney rat, / An’ ’e ’ung around the Rocks when ’e wus young.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 205: The young ‘rat’ more successful than an older thief.
[US]M. McAlary Crack War (1991) 94: He had grown up a poolroom rat in Red Hook.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 3: I can see us, little rats, 14 or 15 most of us, scallying around that Garden Festival.

(h) a person, esp. an enthusiast.

[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 39: Poor little rat.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 95: You’ll see some betting too, for the rats have got money now, and that’s the time to see betting — when the rats have got it. Talk about your gentlemen punters — it takes a rat to bet. When he has a win he won’t put by a fiver of it. Up it goes, all he’s got, every time.
[US]P. Hamill Deadly Piece 10: Most women think he’s a good-looking rat.
[US]G.P. Pelecanos Firing Offense 142: [A] surf rat by the name of Charlie Fiora.
[SA]Sun. Times (S.Afr.) Travel 27 Jan. 22: London surf rats will soon be able to surf a decent six-foot swell closer to home. [...] Venture Xtreme project at Silvertown is to build a wave machine.

(i) (US Und.) a thieving prisoner.

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 252: Rat. Prisoner who steals from another.

(j) (Aus.) a bus inspector.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 40/2: If we stop coppin’, the earnin’s will go up with a jump, and the rats (them’s the inspectors) will spot that somethin’s been wrong [...].

(k) (US) the quality of being an informer.

[US]C. Himes ‘Strictly Business’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 141: Big Angelo had been feeling all along that Hot Papa had rat in his blood.

(l) (Aus. Und.) an incompetent.

[Aus]Cairns Post (Qld) 3 Apr. 7/4: Bennie, you stupid, owl-faced rat [...] I wuz a fool ter trust yer with a job like that.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 45: He’s a rat [...] wouldn’t give you up or brass you . . . no way. Just that he’s a rat. Ratty Jack and Marg vomited.

2. a clergyman.

[UK]J. Earle Micro-Cosmographie (5th) No. 50: A Profane Man. One that nicknames Clergymen with all the terms of reproach, as Rat, Blackcoat, and the like.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Rats. A Black Rat & a Grey Rat, a Py-rat & a Cu-rat.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: Rats. Of these there are the following kinds, a black rat and a grey rat, a py-rat and a cu-rat.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 80: RAT [...] Old cant for clergyman.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]Sl. Dict.

3. a drunkard who has been (breaking street lamps and) arrested and taken to the cells; thus Rat’s Castle, the Poultry Counter prison [drunk as a rat adj.] .

[UK]J. Taylor Drinke and Welcome 13: I have no reason to love Sack, for it made me twice a Rat in Woodstreet Counter-trap.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Rat, a Drunken Man or Woman taken up by the Watch, and carried . . . to the Counter.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy IV 82: [He] commanded his Black-Guard to take us to the Poultry-Counter [...] and then led us along [...] in Triumph to the Rats-Castle.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: rat a drunken man, or woman, taken up by the watch and confined in the watch-house.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Rat drunken man or woman taken in custody for breaking the lamps.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Rat a drunken man or woman taken breaking lamps.

4. (Aus.) in pl., usu. constr. with the, in context of emotions.

(a) tetchiness, bad temper [NB suggestion in cite 1940].

[UK] cited in Partridge DSUE (1984).
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Sept. 35/2: [T]here’s that stinging tree that looks so green and innocent – like the little boy who died – and yet it killed a horse yesterday and gave me particular rats to-day.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 15 May 7/3: Sounds like a chap with the ‘rats’.
[UK]N. Jacob Man Who Found Himself (1952) 190: Mister Briscoe has the rats proper.
[UK]M. Marples Public School Slang 3: ANGRY [...] ratty, in a rat, to lose one’s rat: probably from irate.
[UK]B. Naughton ‘Late Night on Watling Street’ in Late Night on Watling Street (1969) 4: ‘Has he got the rats in him!‘ said Ned. ‘He’s not in the best of moods surely,’ said Taff.

(b) constr. with the, a state of madness.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Dec. 11/2: Esther [...] finally was attacked by that terrible and insidious disease called ‘rats’.
[Aus]‘Dads Wayback’ in Sun. Times (Sydney) 4 Jan. 9/4: [headline] must have ‘rats’ to succeed.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 116: Your own brother is half in the rats with worry.

(c) a hangover, delirium tremens; usu. as in the rats.

[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 5 Oct. 6/2: She has ‘seen rats,’ and all the other monstrosities of delirium tremens.
[UK]Illus. Police News 24 Oct. 7/2: He heard the fruiterer call out ‘rats’ [...] The inspector on duty suggested it referred to delirium tremens.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Oct. 48/1: When the job’s over I must have a four-weeks’ burst, and then I want you to look after me, after the fourth week, when I’ve ‘got the rats.’ That’s the time one needs a man to lean on.
[UK]Bateman & Trevor [perf. Harry Champion] ‘Dr Shelley’ 🎵 I cure the rats and whooping-cough, the measles or the flue.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 41: rats — Delirium tremens.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 237: Rats, In The: Muddled with drink.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 369: He was in the rats.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 25 Dec. 6/4: Three old wine-dots, sipping in the corner, took one look, said ‘This is it! We're in the rats!’.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 101: He was in the rats, all right.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxix 4/4: rats: Delerium [sic] tremens, in the rats, in the horrors.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

5. with ref. to the rat’s fur.

(a) (US) a hair-pad with tapering ends used as the base of the elaborate pompadour hairstyles affected by women in the late 19C, thus v. rat, to use such an embellishment [also the shape of its tail].

[US]Brookyn Dly Eagle (NY) 21 Aug. 2/5: The peaked or cornery appearance of the hair [...] is produced by ‘rats’.
[US]Cairo Dly Bull. (IL) 10 Sept. 4/3: A large stock of ladies’ fancy goods, including hair rats, coils and pads.
[[Aus]Coburg Leader (Vic.) 14 Sept. 4/1: Lizzie R. ought to catch some rats and clip the hair off them for her bun].
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Memoirs of a Yellow Dog’ in Four Million (1915) 112: She straightens up the house, fixes her rat so it won’t show, and gets out a lot of sewing for a ten-minute bluff.
[US]Perrysberg Jrnl (OH) 19 Nov. 4/2: In Toledo the sales of false hair, such as ‘puffs’ or ‘rats’ [...] amounted to over $450. A woman has the same right to puff or rat her hair that a man has to pad the shoulders of his coat.
[US]S.F. Call 9 Jan. 14/3: The new fashions in hair dressing [...] require the discarding of all ‘rats’.
[US]Dly Ardmoreite (OK) 17 Jan. 4/3: The frankfurter puffs and mountain-like ‘rats’ worn by the young ladies.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 17 Jan. 8/4: The bhoys say Kate P. has got a rat.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 157: The rat had squirmed sideways on her head as if trying to escape from under the thin grey pompadour.
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of N.Y. 283: The enormous coiffures called Mikado tuck-ups, which were popular in the nineties, offered excellent places for the concealment of a weapon; and when the pompadour came into vogue, the wire contrivance called a rat, upon which the hair was built up over the forehead, was replaced by a revolver.
[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 73: We used Kotex for rats to build the hair up.

(b) (US black) a wig.

[US](con. 1930s) C. Major Juba to Jive.

(c) the female genitals.

Urban Dict. 13 Apr. 🌐 Rat. Slang term for a woman’s vagina.
Urban Dict. 8 Nov. 🌐 Rat. a very filthy and dirty vagina.

6. f. backform. ratty adj. (2)

(a) (UK juv.) a bad temper.

[UK]E. Blair letter 3 Mar. in Complete Works X (1998) 14: Most of the chaps [on] the other side were in aufel [sic] rats and they were runing [sic] at me like angry dogs.

(b) (Aus.) a bout of madness.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 21 May 3/7: To see him jump about the hall / You would think he had a rat.
[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘Previous and S’Samuel’ in Roderick (1972) 891: How was I to know if Dotty wasn’t goin’ to get a different sort of rat an’ mistake me for a blue duck?

(c) an obsession, an eccentricity.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Gentlemen All’ in Roderick (1972) 919: A cranky Frenchman for cook — with the usual unknown ‘rat’ in his head, perhaps from the War of Seventy.

7. (US campus) a promiscuous, attractive woman [SE but ? Fr. rat, a young woman, esp. a young ballet dancer aged 7–14; cited as a young whore in Balzac A Harlot High and Low (1839–47)].

[[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 155: I admit that lots of the fellows are chasing around with rats on the sly, but lots of them are n’t, too. More fellows go straight around this college than you think. I know a number that have never touched a woman].
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) 🌐 Rat (noun) 1. Really attractive tease. [...] 2. A female who has been all around the neighborhood.
[US]in J. Miller Getting Played 74: ‘I call girls names… everything… B’s, ho's, rats, triflin' tramps…. [Those names] be the first thing that come out my mouth to a girl who make me mad.

In compounds

ratdog (n.)

(US) a general insult, implication of (unwanted) persistence.

[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 125: Ratdog Bobby [Kennedy] made nice-nice [...] dropped off a bottle of Dom Perignon.
rat shop (n.)

(US) anywhere that employs non-union labour.

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MI) 2 Nov. 2/3: The tonsorial artists of New York, who charge ten cents and upwards for shaving, are greatly exercised on account of the increase in the number of ‘rat shops’ whose proprietors only charge five cents.
[US]Eve. Bulletin (Maysville, KY) 24 Aug. 2/1: The tax on cigars ought not to be repealed, because the people ought not to be forced to use inferior, ratshop, coolie, prison or filthy tenement house made cigars.
[US]Waco Eve. News (TX) 20 Nov. 4/4: The proposal [...] being voted on by [...] the Cigarmakers Union is to omit from the label the words ‘opposed to inferior, rat-shop, coolie, prison or filthy tenement house workmanship’.
[US]Labor Jrnl (Everett, WA) 24 Nov. 5/4: A cigar manufacturer took on coolie labor [...] the perplexity arose as to how the purchaser could discriminate between a union-manufacturer [...] and the ‘rat-shop’, coolie-made filthy product.
Labor World 29 Nov. 4/4: The question arose how the consumer might discriminate between the union-made cigar and the ‘rat-shop’, filthy-made coolie product.

In phrases

night-rat (n.)

a hooligan, a drunkard.

[UK]Mercurius Democritus 24-31 May 26: A great fray happened between some Watchmen at Ratcliff and three night-ratts, on [sic] valiant Constable lost his Staffe.
in the rats (adj.)

(UK milit.) drunk.

[UK]‘Army Slang’ in Regiment 11 Apr. 31/2: A soldier who is muddled with drink is ‘in the rats’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

rat-and-fowl (n.)

see separate entry.

rat-arse (n.) (also rat-ass)

1. (orig. US) a general term of abuse; also as adj. [arse n. (1)/-ass sfx ].

J.B. Clayton Walk Toward the Rainbow 232: What kind of a rat’s ass town is this?
[US]Southern & Hoffenberg Candy (1970) 55: I’ll catch up with the rat-ass and believe me, when I do ...
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 171: He saw a rat-ass Army corporal [...] slide in beside the blonde.
[NZ]K. Dunn Geek Love 36: I go on sitting, watching, feeling like a rat’s-ass fool.
[Scot]I. Rankin Fleshmarket Close (2005) 59: DC Reynolds, known behind his back as ‘Rat-Arse’ [...] with a reputation as a wind-up merchant.

2. a drunk [backform. f. rat-arsed ].

[Scot]I. Rankin Let It Bleed 48: Rat-Arse Reynolds is in there.
rat-arsed (adj.) [-arsed sfx; note drunk as a rat adj.]

(also rats) drunk.

P. Beale Partridge’s Dict. Sl. (8th edn) 961/1: Rat-arsed, drunk, tipsy: teenagers’: early 1980s.
Performance mag. 153/2: I was [...] on their amateur night thing and they said to me we haven't got a compere, please will you do it, so I got rat-arsed drunk.
[Ire]R. Doyle Van (1998) 596: He felt really rat-arsed now. He nearly fell over.
[UK]Guardian Guide 25–31 July 16: Can’t see big-hairdo, big-personality Wax doing with a sloshed Ollie Reed or a rat-arsed Tracey Emin.
[UK]Guardian G2 11 Nov. 6: A few years of being rat-arsed, smashed, loaded, leathered, pissed [...] then normal drinking will set in.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 31: Colm, Mal an Mags ad been in thir fuh owers before I got thir but a was still rat-arsed before them.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 98: ‘Rat-arsed.’ [...] ‘Inebriated, I should say.’.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 272: A rat-arsed Alison and Kelly barging intae the room [...] bringin in a ragged, morning light.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 107: I was usually half-rats — sometimes illuminated to the extreme.
rat-assed (adj.) (also ratty-ass, ratty-assed)

dirty, untidy.

G. Dutton (ed.) Modern Aus. Writing 285: One of the ‘cockatoos,’ a young, rat-assed tough with a cloth cap pulled down over his eyes.
[US]‘Heat Moon’ Blue Highways 122: They don’t live in a rat-ass ghetto.
[US](con. 1968) D.A. Dye Citadel (1989) 157: Got caught with my ratty-assed trousers down around my jungle boots.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 180: She felt the best in her old red-and-black tartan pattern, flannel, ratty-ass bathrobe.

see separate entries.

rat bastard (n.)

(orig. US) a general term of abuse; also as adj.

[US]Amer. Mercury 47-8 456/1: You’re a dirty lousy rat bastard.
[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People 485: I’ll cut your heart out, you double-crossing rat bastard. Rat bastard, rat son of a bitch, double-crossing, sneaky, God damn rat son of a bitch bastard, I’ll cut your throat out.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 215: You consider yourself a better man thank Frank? You rat bastard.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 29 April in Proud Highway (1997) 378: Tomorrow is another of these ratbastard holidays.
[US]J. Charyn Once upon a Droshky 87: So who then is the real rat-bastard in this affair?
[US]E. Torres Q&A 136: Cock suckin’ rat bastard.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 107: He was always a rat bastard.
[US]Pileggi & Scorsese Goodfellas [film script] 3: Rat bastard. He’s never been any fuckin’ good.
[Aus]J. Birmingham Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (1998) 36: The quiet but annoying voice of reason [...] kept nagging at me like a ratbastard to take the money and run.
Naked Knitting [blog] That rat bastard [...] Aa broke up with me this morning.
D. Sedaris When You’re Engulfed in Flames 96: Rat bastard motherfucker could have set our whole bulding on fire.
ratboy (n.)

1. (US drugs) a street chemist, testing illicit drugs for purity.

[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 249: The dealer played with a butterfly knife [...] His ratboy did the acid test on their kilo of cocaine.

2. a young boy exploited by a paedophile.

[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 31: Wear something sexy, ratboy [...] and don’t forget to write.
[UK]M. Manning Get Your Cock Out 67: The odd paedophile and his 10 year old rat-boy prodigy frugging away.
rat-brained (adj.)

cunning, duplicitous.

R. Beach Iron Trail 85: This rat-brained party said he hadn’t come.
E.R. Burroughs Oakdale Affair (2010) 147: I’d like to come back and haunt this bunch of rat brained rubes.
Sat. Eve Post 195 26/2: I could do better to trail by myself instead of being mixed up with a pair of rat-brained miscreants like you.
W.F. Fowler Battle of 1933 78: The rat brained, snake-eyed rascals who conceal their rascality under the dignified expression ‘financial genius’.
[US]B. Malamud Tenants (1972) 69: I tried ten of those rat-brained Jews and they all turned it down.
R. Thorp Rainbow Drive 42: The little rat-brained bastards of the world saw a guy whose life was a roller-skate through the buffalo herd.
C. Strube Lemon 🌐 Some rat-brained artist was paid to pollute those little kids’ minds about Jews.
J. Hosken Sophie Storme 141: They weren’t gentlemen and they looked pretty rat-brained to me.
rat(’s) coffin (n.)

1. (Aus.) a meat pie.

[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 4 Feb. 2/1: [I]t is similar to the term ‘roach coach’ for the mobile canteen and ‘rat coffin’ for the pie purchased there.
[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 21 Aug. 16/2: In his book Stark, Ben Elton describes the Australian meat pie as a ‘rat’s coffin’.
J. Larkin Gazza’s Gone [ebook] Eric slurped on the gravy that was spilling out of his rat’s coffin.
Blokey Shed 24 Sept. 🌐 Rat Coffin/maggot bag (meat pie).
[Aus]Betoota-isms 105: Rat’s Coffin [...] 2. A grey mystery meat entombed in a tube of burnt flaky pastry, served with sauce at sporting events, service stations and school canteens.

2. (Aus.) a sausage roll.

[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] The orders [...] usually consisted of a rat coffin or a leper in a sleeping bag (sausage rolls), maggot bag, dog’s eye or mystery bag (pies), dead horse (tomato sauce) and battery acid (cola).
[Aus]Betoota-isms 105: Rat’s Coffin 1. A sausage roll.
rat-drawn (adj.) [? a rat’s pointed nose]

(US black) of shoes, pointed; such shoes were part of the pimp’s ‘uniform’.

[US] ‘Stagger Lee’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 135: He had a Colt .45 and a deck of cards, / Rat-drawn shoes, an old Stetson hat.
rat face (n.)

(orig. US) a contemptible person, esp. if treacherous or cunning; also as a derog. term of address.

[UK]Illus. Sporting & Dramatic News 1 Dec . 18/2: Rat-face hated me so much.
Union (OH) 7 Dec. 3: It remained for a colored soldier to fasten upon him a name that will not rub off — Mister Ratface.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘’Ave a ’Eart!’ in Rose of Spadgers 76: But Rat-face ducked.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Final Count 800: Now, rat face, what excuse have you got to offer for living?
[UK]Sketch (London) 1 Dec. 8/1: Rat-face’s uninviting countenace grew darker and more sinister.
[UK]C. Lee diary 12 Dec. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 14: There was this woman sitting at a desk by the door. A right rat-face [...] She really looked horrible.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 96: And he repli i simply couldn’t agree with you more rat face.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 243: ‘Rat-face’ hated pimps without guilt feelings tied in.
[Aus]T. Winton That Eye, The Sky 33: Well, what about it, Ratface?
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 113: Morris was checking out his girlfriend. [...] ‘What are you looking at, rat-face?’ Womack enquired.
rat-faced (adj.) (also rat-face)

a general term of abuse, the image is of a thin, mean face.

M. Walsh letter in Speeches & Writing (1843) 78: I was highly amused by a debate which took place in the car, between a peevish, crabbed, rat-faced, Steve Harris looking old weasel [...] the rat-faced man, who I afterwards ascertained to be a defaulter.
[US]Yorkville Enquirer (SC) 27 Nov. 1/1: ‘Skin ’im?’ interrupted a rat-faced youth.
J.S. Corbett For God and Gold 314: All the time our rat-faced surgeon sat unmoved in the corner of the house where we were.
[UK]A. Conan Doyle Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 169: Turning round we saw a little rat-faced fellow standing in the centre of the circle of yellow light which was thrown by the swinging lamp.
[US]National Mag. 13 18/2: Ezra Lord, a ratfaced Philadelphia lawyer.
Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA) 6 Dec. 14/1: ‘All Sorts of Boys’ [...] There's the cat-faced boy, and the rat-faced boy, / And the boy with the bovine stare.
[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Dope 218: We let Scotland Yard work night and day, and then we present our rat-faced selves to Mr. Monte Irvin and say we have ‘found the lady,’ do we?
[US]S. Ornitz Haunch Paunch and Jowl 69: No, he don’t listen to me but he follows that rat-faced sonofagun, Issie Weingrad, who wises him up to a store what they can get into by squeezing Archie through the fanlight.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 26 July 8/3: A snarling whisper from that rat-faced man, a nod from the other.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 66: Her rat-faced ‘friend’ had taken most of her cash to go to the White City.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 206: The lift had hardly whisked the rat-faced old streak of misery down towards the ground floor than I was on the phone to Peter.
[US]B. Malamud Tenants (1972) 145: Even though you know you are well-hung [...] you have these rat-face doubts are you still a man.
[US]J. Roe The Same Old Grind 117: Bella [...] spoke to the cocktail waitress, rat-faced Lacey.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 115: I explained [...] to the rat-faced denizens of Denmark Street.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Two rat-faced fucks that are clearly his best mates.
rat fink

see separate entries.

rat fuck/fucker/fucking

see separate entries.

rat heap (n.)

(Aus.) an unpleasant, dirty place.

[Aus]Tharunka (Sydney) 8 Nov 28/3: Fuck this, we’ll go to the Windsor Castle to look at the blue or grey-rinse queers and all sorts of disk-jocks and freaks from the Paddington ratheap.

see separate entries.

rathouse (n.) [ratty adj. (2a)/bandhouse n.]

1. (Aus., also rat-factory) a psychiatric institution.

[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 5 Aug. 3/4: ‘Someone ought to be in the rat-house,’ yelled a hard face at the back. ‘Make an appointment,’ replied the candidate.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 18 Sept. 10/3: [cartoon caption] X-ray dresses and split skirts are being worn by fashionable women this spring. [W.J.] Chidley [a freethinker, known for wearing a thin ‘Grecian’ tunic]: ‘And they put ME In the rat house!’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Mar. 7/4: An asylum is known as the rat-house or the giggle house.
[Aus]R. Tate Doughman 41: ‘What with one thing and another,’ he cried, ‘I’ll soon be in the rat-house!’.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘That Summer’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 200: I’d feel if things didn’t stop going round in my head I’d end up in the rat house.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 190: You want to make up your mind and dice whatever you don’t want. Otherwise you’ll end up in the rat-house.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 68: They tried to get Tonker certified crackers [...] but the people at the rat-factory must have been a bit cagey about taking him on.
D. Harcourt Everyone Wants to be Fuehrer 39: Ted’s in the rat-house. They’ve locked him up and thrown away the key.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 92/1: rat factory psychiatric hospital.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 195: They’ll let me out of the rathouse after two years.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 80: ‘He’s putting me into hospital. For a sleep cure.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘It’s not like a rathouse’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 116: ‘Poor old Lander and his wife were drowned [...] ‘And their son Eachan finished in the rathouse’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

2. any situation that drives one crazy.

[Aus]S.L. Elliott Rusty Bugles I iv: Cripes what good will a man be when he gets out of this rathouse.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 64: Let’s get out’a here. It’s a flaming rat-house!

3. (Aus. prison) a prison.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Rat house. 1. Prison.
rat joint (n.)

1. (US) a second-rate, unpleasant establishment [ratty adj. (1) + joint n. (3b)].

[US]S.E. White Westerners 133: ‘I’ll shoot up your old rat joint yere till you ain’t got glass enough to mend your wall eye.’ [...] Lafond had come softly to the end of the bar. ‘Naw,’ he interrupted quietly, ‘you are not shooting up anything.’.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 26: What kind of ratjoint is this that I got to sit in the back.
T. Mclain-Watson Murder Through the Grapevine [ebook] What[’s] a classy lady like you doin’ in a rat joint like this?

2. (Aus.) a psychiatric institution [ratty adj. (2a) + joint n. (3k)].

[Aus]Dly Teleg. (Sydney) 28 Mar. 9/5: In some cases men who have suffered emerge from [solitary confinement] in such a low mental state that they have to be sent to what is called ‘the rat joint’ — the insane wing in Parramatta Gaol.
[Aus]Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA) 20 July 16/3: A few days later he was shifted to the ‘rat-joint’ (the lunatic asylum).
[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘The Story of Dotty’ in Roderick (1972) 885: ‘There was a little window in the rat-joint that looked out into the street opposite the old jug.’ (Previous meant the Darlinghurst Gaol).
rat muncher (n.)

a general term of abuse.

[Scot]I. Welsh Marabou Stork Nightmares 174: A mingin’ rat-muncher [...] tried to block ma swing as I heard the bone in his arm crack.
L. Rin ‘Top Fives’ on Aradath Trib. III:6 🌐 That grungy rat muncher Grimn took second place.

see separate entries.

rat-prick (adj.)

a general abusive epithet.

T. Southern letter 20 July in N. Southern Candy Men (2004) 170: Without wishing to seem the perfect rat-prick or stickler for procedural detail, may I suggest that we open our letters with an acknowledgement of receipt.
[US]T. Southern Blue Movie (1974) 17: Sock it to ’em, Les! you rat-prick fruit!
J. Reardon Jimmy Riley 302: Did you find out exactly how this rat prick was going to deliver me?
J. Logan Sclocum and the W. Texas Plunder n.p.: Dirty, stinkin’ miserable low-down, two-bit, double-shuffle, thimble-ringin’, shitsuckin’, rat-prick scum.
H.F. Mosher Waiting for Teddy Williams 38: Run over me, you impotent little rat’s prick.
rat’s ass (n.)

see separate entry.

rats’ castle (n.) [its population of lit. or fig. ‘vermin’]

1. a prison, esp. the Poultry Counter, a prison in London.

[UK]N. Ward London Spy IV 82: [He] commanded his Black-Guard to take us to the Poultry-Counter; who [...] then led us along by the Elbows in Triumph to the Rats’-Castle.
[UK]N. Ward Rambling Rakes 9: As soon as the Key was turn’d, the whole Family of the Rat-Castle, flock’d about us as thick as the Mob about an insnar’d Diver for Pence.

2. (UK und.) a notorious tenement in St Giles, London WC.

[UK]Satirist (London) 11 Nov. 362/4: [S]he led him to a place in St. Giles’s, and introduced him to an apartment of the meanest description [...] He had since understood it was known by the name of ‘Rats Castle,’ and the ‘Rookery,’ a most notorious receptacle.
[UK]Mirror of Life 5 Jan. 11/2: The ‘Holy Land,’ that charmed and almost sacred stronghold of Saint Giles’s, where at the mendicants’ symposium, Rats' Castle, the beggars grumbled if their turkey was served without ‘sassangers’.
[UK]D. Stewart Vultures of the City in Illus. Police News 15 Dec. 12/1: In one of the turnings off Seven Dials, stood an old, tumbledown, grim-looking tenement known all [as] the Rats’ Castle.
rat shagger (n.) [shagger n.1 (1)]

a general term of abuse.

[Scot]I. Welsh Marabou Stork Nightmares 172: Dempsey was trying to cream a bar ay soap intae the rat-shagger’s face. – Get a fuckin wash ya smelly soapdodging Weedgie cunt... dae yous cunt’s nivir fuckin wash... slum-dwellin fuckin trash!
[Scot]I. Welsh Porno 198: As the Weedgie rat-shagger heads off to the bogs. I make my intense displeasure known.

see separate entries.

rat’s piss (n.)

1. weak beer or other alcoholic drink.

G. Benford If the Stars are Gods 100: Even soaked in good bourbon, the cigars, three years removed from Havana, tasted like rat’s piss.
M. Binchy Silver Wedding 69: That’s only rat’s piss, that stuff, fancy bottles for the carriage trade. I’m not drinking that.
P. Gale Facts of Life 333: Despite having already condemned it as ‘rat’s piss’, Sam was putting away the champagne as though it were sweet and innocuous water.
[UK]M. Manning Get Your Cock Out 13: ‘The fackin beer’s not even cold!’ spat Strutter, tossing the can of cheap rat’s piss against the heavily graffitied wall.
M.R. Hicks Unfit for Murder 46: I say, old chap, you sell anything here that don’t taste like warmed over rat’s piss?
P. Millar All Gone to Look for America [ebook] Thebeer is excellent [...] tasting of hops and malt rather than the weak rancid rat’s piss their big brewers now try to sell to susceptible Brits.

2. as a measure of insignificance.

D. Gemmell Troy 448: A man who tells his child he loathes him [...] isn't worth rat’s piss.
L. Meacham Somerset [ebook] ‘I don't give a rat’s piss whether you’re naked or not,’ he whispered hoarsely. ‘Get out of there!’.
rat’s tail (n.) [the fashion – as part of the mullet n.2 – and thus the word, re-emerged in 1980s]

1. a pig-tail, as fashionable as a man’s hairstyle.

[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 63: A fourth, with his own natural Rats-tails hanging by the Sides of his Cheeks.
Prisoners Opera 8: With a Rats-tail Wig and a Cockade.
[UK]‘Hercules Vinegar’ The Cudgel or Crab-tree Lecture 26: Our Barbers would contrive new Wigs for Beaus; Rats-tails and Bobs no longer should be worn.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 1 Aug. 4: The ‘rat-tail’, a variation on the look (currently modelled by Ewan McGregor in The Phantom Menace) was outlawed in Missouri in 1983, with a $100 fine.

2. (US black) a straight-haired wig.

[US]Lightnin’ Hopkins ‘Short Haired Woman’ 🎵 Yes, she’s buyin’ rats all the time [...] I even found a rat on her pillow where she usta lay.
[US]P. Oliver Blues Fell this Morning 83: To improve their appearance some Negro women buy ‘rats’, ‘rats’ tails,’ or artificial hair.
rat-tail (adj.) (also rat-tailed)

a general term of disapproval, disdain.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff All at Coventry II iii: How d’ye do, Rat-tail?
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 108: Galloping galloways, / Rat-tailed dreary rips!
[UK]Bradford Obs. 3 Nov. 7/3: Tomnoddy’s day of ‘noble sport’ is with the hounds of course — No sport has he, thanks to that rat-tailed bay.
[US]‘Bill Nye’ Bill Nye and Boomerang 12: Twenty-two immigrant wagons drawn by rat-tail mules.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 14 Aug. 7/7: A badly-bred, heavy-headed, rat-tailed dun-coloured mongrel.
[UK]M. Forrest Hibiscus Heart 62: Gerry’s rat-tailed piebald.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 115: I just hate to have Johnny kill his woman [...] on account of a rat-tail punk like Chink.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 24: He had the small bastard and rattail files right in his pocket.
rat trap

see separate entries.

In phrases

drunk as a rat (adj.)

see separate entry.

get a rat (v.) (also have a rat)

(Aus./N.Z.) to act crazily in an eccentric manner.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Boss’s Boots’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 320: The Boss has got a rat to-day; he’s buckin’ everywhere.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 84: The factory flat loudly asserted that Spats had ‘got a rat’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Feb. 4/8: As for my clyner, I’m fair fogged about ’er. She must ’ave a rat.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: rat (to have a) To be crazy.
get rats (v.) (also have rats)(Aus./N.Z.)

1. to feel unwell, ‘out of sorts’.

E. Yates Land at Last v: ‘Well, and now, old boy, how are you?’ ‘Well, not very brilliant this morning, Algy. I – ’ ‘Ah, like me, got rats, haven’t you’ .
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Man Who Forgot’ in Roderick (1972) 157: Amongst his mates had been counted a deaf man, a blind man, a poet, and a man who ‘had rats’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Send Round the Hat’ in Roderick (1972) 470: You’ve got rats this mornin’, Gentleman Once.

2. to be very drunk.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 July 2nd sect. 12/8: And when the Goldfields meeting came the yeller of the odds / Was a most devout disciple of the vine-embellished gods. / He had mice in his mentality and rats upon his roof. / Frogs upon his forehead and a serpent on each hoof.

3. to act in a cowardly manner.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Dec. 31/2: Just here the assisting ‘hopeful’ gave expression to his thoughts; he opined that his father had got rats. Goaded by this the boss at last faced the steer.

4. (Aus.) to be punished.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 22 Feb. 3/4: It was coaxed by wicked brats, / From ’Enrietta. / If she cops ’em they’ll get rats, / From ’Enrietta.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 23 Feb. 3/5: ‘If I don’t get sum / Money, I’ll get rats, you bet’.
give someone rats (v.)

1. (Aus.) to drive someone mad.

[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 13 May n.p.: Bill S— , what makes you reel so often? Does Chatty give you ‘rats?’.
Halsey New Union Song Book 49: He gave them rats, with his wild cats, And made secesh quite sick .
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Sketches New and Old 48: You may write a blistering article on the police—give the Chief Inspector rats .
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Sept. 5/1: You give him rats [...] Thanks all the same.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Board and Residence’ in Roderick (1972) 174: ‘Well, of course, Mr Sampson, etc., etc., etc., and-so-on, and-so-on, and-so-on, and-so-on, ...’ It’s enough to give a man rats.
[Aus]L.M. Palmer-Archer Bush Honeymoon 283: Boko’s sister Mag’s away to-night, or she’d give them rats.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Aug. 22/2: ‘I got a tooth giving me rats.’ ‘Go to sleep,’ said Bill. ‘Can’t,’ said Jones.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

2. (Aus./US) to scold, to reprimand.

Freeman’s Jrnl (Sydney) 26 Apr. 14/1: ‘An the papers talk of me I'll give them rats, you bet’.
[Aus]Wagga Wagga Exp. (NSW) 29 Aug. 6/4: [T]hey have a weapon which coal miners and carpenters have not yet thought of. They don’t break out into loud and vulgar objurgations of ‘scabs’ and ‘blacklegs,’ though they are quite prepared to give them ‘rats’ to the best of their ability.
[Aus]J. Furphy Such is Life 92: I foun’ him givin’ me rats for campin’.
H. Hershfield Abie the Agent 6 Mar. [synd. cartoon strip] Oy, is Grosfeld giving somebody ‘rets’ for something.
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 21 Feb. 15/6: Note. - Citizens are warned against using, towards the enemy, such expressions as ‘Giving them beans’; or ‘Giving them rats,’ as they are calculated to excite appetites and make people feel hungrier than they really are.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 27 Apr. 5/7: 'Come on, Mr God [...] Keep yopur eye on us, while we give the Devil rats’.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 323: To give [someone] rats is to rebuke that someone or to make trouble for the other person.
go the rat (v.)

(Aus.) to act without restraint.

[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mud Crab Boogie (2013) [ebook] ‘What would you have done if some scozza come up and undid your fly and started going the rat?’.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 194: go the rat means no holds barred.
have the rats (v.)

(Aus.) to suffer delirium tremens.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Oct. 48/1: When the job’s over I must have a four-weeks’ burst, and then I want you to look after me, after the fourth week, when I’ve ‘got the rats.’ That’s the time one needs a man to lean on.
like a rat up a drainpipe (adv.) (also like a rat up a pump, ...up a rafter, ...up a rope, ...up a spout)

very quickly, usu. used in a sexual context.

[Aus]Narracoorte Herald SA) 7 Oct. 2/4: Fourteen competitors stormed the six feet fences of the show yards, and it was highly amusing to see the runner climbing the fences. Some of them went over them ‘Like a rat up a pump’.
[Aus]Referee (Sydney) 16 July 6/3: I am not going to follow the example of my American [...] friends and assort that Fitzy will go through him like a rat up a rope.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Aug. 4/6: [He] went up the slopes of Parnassus like a rat up a water-spout.
A. Sangree Jinx 46: We’ll go through ’em like a rat up a pump.
R. Beach Laughing Bill Hyde 360: If I’d of overplayed my hand a nickel’s worth he'd of clumb up me like a rat up a rafter.
[UK]A.E. Dingle Gold Out of Celebes 23: I ’ll make him start something though; then I ’ll sail into him like a rat up a pump!
[Aus]Canberra Times 13 Dec. 3/1: [advert] DODGE TOURER, 1922 Model, rather old-timer, but has wonderful motor. [...] Will climb a hill like a rat up a rope.
W.P. Burke Senor Burkey 37: I shot out of the stokehold like a rat up a spout.
[Aus]R.S. Close Love Me Sailor 209: He soared up the steps again like a rat up a shoreline.
[NZ]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 18: A gap and he’d be in, boots and all, like a rat up a drainpipe.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 27: We’ll get around to the crib-room, or Ziggy’ll be up me like a rat up a rope.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 39: Yer wanner take ut easy. No use goin’ like a rat up a rope.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 25: You’d be out after ’em like a rat up a rope.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 39: Brown Tongue Parker himself slunk like a rat up a drainpipe in to the Council dump.
[Aus]R. Macklin Queenslander 10: My brother went up her like a rat up a drainpipe. She’s a nympho.
[Aus]D. Maitland Breaking Out 247: Prices have risen like a rat up a bloody drainpipe.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 66: He took off like a rat up a drainpipe.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 43: Rat up a rope: If one does something like a rat up a rope one has moved exceedingly quickly.
[US]D. Lypchuk ‘A Dirty Little Story’ in eye mag. 8 July 🌐 He fed the dumb glutton and gave the dog a bone until the rat went up the drainpipe.
[UK]P. Meditzy ‘A Day In The Life Of...’ 29 Apr. 🌐 ‘Like a rat up a drain pipe’ I proceeded to ‘bend one up’ and in no time I was ‘porking her’ with my ‘conkers deep’ inside her ‘double doors’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 127: like a rat up a drainpipe Quick moving, often in pursuit of sexual gratification. ANZ.
[Scot]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: He’d have been all over the French lassies like a rash. He'd be like a rat up a fucking drainpipe, the dirty old bastard.
[UK]Times 21 Oct. 🌐 She claimed that the director [...] had said to her: ‘Back in the day, I’d have been up you like a rat up a drainpipe but now I’m a reformed character’.
make rat (v.) (also rat in) [Fr. Creole faire (le) rat, to act like a rat; ult. the negative stereotype of the rat]

(W.I.) to sneak into without paying, to gatecrash.

[WI]Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage 467/1: rat in [...] make rat to get into [...] To enter (a place of entertainment) without paying.
rats in the attic (also rats in one’s/the garret, infested with rats) [var. on SE have bats in the belfry]

insane, mad.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 28 May 2: She came to the conclusion that he had rats in his garret.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 8 Feb. 6/3: The professor is a local celebrity with rats in his garret, or, in other words, with some ‘buttons’ missing,.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 14 Jan. 6/7: Telling me I must have ‘Rats in the garret’ (i.e. gone in the head) or else be a downright — fool.
[UK]Eve. Exp. (Cardiff) 13 May 4/3: [of New York sl.] It was found desirable to substitute for [‘wheels in his head’] something more nearly up-to-date, and so the current expression, ‘There are rats in his attic,’ gained acceptance.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 127: ‘Rats in your garret,’ meaning silly, mad or light-headed.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Barracking’ in Benno and Some of the Push 143: ‘There’s someone in th’ himmediate vicinity infested with rats,’ says Benno.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 30 Nov. 3/6: [A] fellow who’d seek to get rich in a hurry where two trains a week / With the speed of a bullock dray crawl in and out, / Has got rats in his garret.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 237: Rats In The Garret: Of weak intellect. Mad.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 148: Meshuga, too, is more widely used in Yiddish to mean wildly and extravagantly bonkers — ‘rats in the attic! bang!’ as Australian speakers might say.
rat track whisky (n.)

(drugs) very strong whisky.

[US]V. Randolph ‘Wet Words in Kansas’ in AS IV:5 386: Some of the common names for whiskey [...] Panther-sweat, monkey-swill and rat-track whiskey.
street rat (n.)

(US) a street child, usu. the homeless offspring of Irish immigrants.

C.L. Brace Dangerous Classes of NY 318: The police soon knew them as ‘street-rats;’ but, like the rats, they were too quick and cunning to be often caught in their petty plunderings.
[US]J. Lait ‘The Septagon’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 16: The big boy drew back his ponderous foot to kick him, but the little street-rat, with scarce a swing, let fly the ragged piece of brick.
[US]E. Shrake Strange Peaches 38: Driving through this area conjured up faces of [. . .] street rats [...] Nearly all the kids I knew were thieves at ten or twelve.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 99: Doesn’t mean a fucking thing if you get rounded on by a pack of little street rats that know the score.

In exclamations