Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rathole n.

1. (orig. US) a dirty or unpleasant place or room; also attrib.

[US]Ely’s Hawk and Buzzard (N.Y.) 21 June 1/1: An independent loafer can be accommodated with a bonk [sic] or rat hole to crawl in for eight pence — a loafer of some distinction, one for six pence.
[UK]Thackeray Yellowplush Papers Works III (1898) 243: Fourteen shillings a wick was a little too stong for two such rat-holes as he lived in.
[US]Gleaner (Manchester, NH) 29 Apr. n.p.: He has a place which he uses for nameless purposes; a sort of ‘Rat hole’ in a secluded spot.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 331/1: We’ve got through that cursed rat-hole.
[UK]W.C. Russell Jack’s Courtship I 205: What are you stopping in this rat-hole for?
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 18 Jan. 4/3: [He] assigned the distinguished guests to a snug rathole near the skylight.
Norfolk Wkly News (NE) 14 Sept. 4/1: He was dreaming of the rathole of a nipa hut in which his boyhood days were passed.
[US]T.H. Kelly What Outfit, Buddy? 41: When you put sixty mules and fifty men in a rat-hole, ’way below fresh air and daylight [...] Gas ain’t in it with the fumes.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 24: Harry Fabian [...] familiar with every rat-hole in West one and West central.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 307: ‘Ever been through Coiling’s Flat?’ ‘Yeah,’ Thirty-Bob drawled. ‘Dirty little rat-hole.’.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 285: Paying ten bob a week for that rathole.
[US]B. Appel Tough Guy [ebook] [A] rathole, so small that Joey used to say, ‘No deep breathin’ or we’ll go through the damn walls’.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 15 Nov. in Proud Highway (1997) 240: Life is a rathole.
[Aus]K. Tennant Tell Morning This 31: ‘I had enough trouble getting her out of that rathole’.
[UK]A. Burgess Enderby Outside in Complete Enderby (2002) 302: Fifty or so miles from the capital, boojie little rathole.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 154: It must be echoing through every rathole in the Village.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 122: I played in some dumps. I played in some snake holes, some rat holes.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 36: Even when I lived in ratholes I was generally meticulous about the vein and hygiene factor.
[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 146: The bog’s even smaller than that rathole office of yours.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 91: I won’t spend a second longer is this rat hole than I have to.
[Scot]T. Black Gutted 55: Holed up in some one-room rathole, downing Special Brew.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] The place was a rat hole in front of the main city train station.
[Scot]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] A rathole flat in a drafty and decrepit ruin with prostitutes turning tricks a few feet away.
[UK]M. Herron Secret Hours 300: [S]he’d been taken to that rathole of a nightclub.

2. (US black) a (trouser) pocket.

D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 21 Mar. 16: ‘He then pulled a paper from his rat-hole’.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive n.p.: You next lay one of those long ones with many links onto your squeezer, and hook it into your rathole.