20 Rat Idioms in English

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Explore common English expressions featuring rats. Discover their meanings and see them used in sentences.

Rat Idioms

1. Smell a rat

Meaning: Suspect something is wrong.

Example: He smelled a rat when she hesitated.

2. Rat race

Meaning: Competitive, stressful routine.

Example: I’m tired of this endless rat race.

3. Like a rat up a drainpipe

Meaning: Move very quickly.

Example: He shot off like a rat up a drainpipe.

4. Rat out

Meaning: Betray or inform on someone.

Example: He ratted out his friends to save himself.

5. Rats desert a sinking ship

Meaning: People leave a failing enterprise.

Example: When profits plunged, the managers left quickly.

6. Rat on someone

Meaning: Betray someone’s trust.

Example: She ratted on me and I got fired.

7. Pack rat

Meaning: Someone who hoards items.

Example: He’s a pack rat with old newspapers.

8. As quiet as a mouse

Meaning: Very quiet, hardly noticeable.

Example: She sat as quiet as a mouse.

9. Rat’s nest

Meaning: A messy, disorganized place.

Example: His room was a complete rat’s nest.

10. Drain the rat

Meaning: Vulgar slang for urinate.

Example: He went outside to drain the rat.

11. Lab rat

Meaning: Someone used in experiments.

Example: We felt like lab rats in that study.

12. I smell a rat

Meaning: Suspect deception or foul play.

Example: She left abruptly; I smell a rat.

13. Ratbag

Meaning: A despicable or unpleasant person.

Example: That guy is a real ratbag.

14. Desert rat

Meaning: Someone who lives in arid regions.

Example: He’s become a true desert rat.

15. Rat’s tail

Meaning: Something long, thin, and tapering.

Example: He wore his hair in a rat’s tail.

16. To rat on the agreement

Meaning: To back out of a deal.

Example: He threatened to rat on the agreement.

17. King rat

Meaning: The dominant person in a group.

Example: He’s the king rat of their gang.

18. To have a rat’s chance

Meaning: Have little to no chance of success.

Example: He has a rat’s chance in this contest.

19. Rats from a sinking ship

Meaning: People abandoning something failing.

Example: Employees fled like rats from a sinking ship.

20. Like rats in a trap

Meaning: Stuck with no escape.

Example: They were caught like rats in a trap.

Related: 20 Horse Idioms in English

Rat Idioms


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