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February 17, 2014 - Word of the Day: rat

 

A rat is a type of rodent.* It looks like a very large mouse, but it has a thick, long tail and a long nose. Rats are common throughout the world. While they are found in nature, they thrive living alongside human beings in densely populated areas where there is poor, public sanitation. Most people regard rats as pests. They're destructive and they can spread disease.

The word "rat" can be used to describe a person whose behavior is sneaky or dishonest:

  • That guy is a dirty, lying rat.
  • Those rats at the gas station gave me the wrong change. (change = an exchange of money)
  • Claiming to serve in the public interest, it seems that the rats who work in government care only about themselves.
  • The lawyer we hired to help us turned out to be a rat.
  • Jeremy learned that his landlord was a thieving rat who stole things from the tenants in the apartment building.
  • The drug dealer ratted out the people he worked with to the FBI. (rat out / rat on = to prove disloyal; to provide damaging testimony against a former accomplice)

This word (in the plural form) is also used as an expression of frustration:

  • Oh, rats! I forgot to lock the door to my house.
  • Rats! My cell phone is low on juice. (juice = battery power)

*rodent: a mammal with long front teeth that constantly gnaws on vegetation. Gnawing (the constant use of the front teeth) is a necessary method of controlling the growth of the teeth.

rat A rat is a rodent.

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