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rabbit

[rab-it]
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noun, plural rab·bits, (especially collectively) rab·bit for 1–3.
  1. any of several soft-furred, large-eared, rodentlike burrowing mammals of the family Leporidae, allied with the hares and pikas in the order Lagomorpha, having a divided upper lip and long hind legs, usually smaller than the hares and mainly distinguished from them by bearing blind and furless young in nests rather than fully developed young in the open.
  2. any of various small hares.
  3. the fur of a rabbit or hare, often processed to imitate another fur.
  4. Welsh rabbit.
  5. a runner in a distance race whose goal is chiefly to set a fast pace, either to exhaust a particular rival so that a teammate can win or to help another entrant break a record; pacesetter.
  6. British Informal. a person who is poor at sports, especially golf, tennis, or cricket.
Idioms
  1. pull a rabbit out of the hat, to find or obtain a sudden solution to a problem: Unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of the hat by next week, we'll be bankrupt.

Origin of rabbit

1375–1425; late Middle English rabet(te) young rabbit, bunny, probably < Old North French; compare Walloon robett, dialectal Dutch robbe
Related formsrab·bit·like, rab·bit·y, adjective
Can be confusedrabbet rabbit rarebit rebate

Hodges

[hoj-iz]
noun
  1. John CorneliusJohnnyRabbitJeep, 1906–70, U.S. jazz saxophonist.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for rabbit

rabbit

noun plural -bits or -bit
  1. any of various common gregarious burrowing leporid mammals, esp Oryctolagus cuniculus of Europe and North Africa and the cottontail of America. They are closely related and similar to hares but are smaller and have shorter ears
  2. the fur of such an animal
  3. British informal a novice or poor performer at a game or sport
verb
  1. (intr) to hunt or shoot rabbits
  2. (intr ; often foll by on or away) British informal to talk inconsequentially; chatter

Word Origin

(senses 1-4) C14: perhaps from Walloon robett, diminutive of Flemish robbe rabbit, of obscure origin (sense 5) C20: from rhyming slang rabbit and pork talk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rabbit

n.

late 14c., "young of the coney," from French dialect (cf. Walloon robète), diminutive of Flemish or Middle Dutch robbe "rabbit," of unknown origin. "A Germanic noun with a French suffix" [Liberman]. The adult was a coney (q.v.) until 18c.

Zoologically speaking, there are no native rabbits in the United States; they are all hares. But the early colonists, for some unknown reason, dropped the word hare out of their vocabulary, and it is rarely heard in American speech to this day. When it appears it is almost always applied to the so-called Belgian hare, which, curiously enough, is not a hare at all, but a true rabbit. [Mencken, "The American Language"]

Rabbit punch "chop on the back of the neck" so called from resemblance to a gamekeeper's method of dispatching an injured rabbit. Pulling rabbits from a hat as a conjurer's trick recorded by 1843. Rabbit's foot "good luck charm" first attested 1879, in U.S. Southern black culture. Earlier references are to its use as a tool to apply cosmetic powders.

[N]ear one of them was the dressing-room of the principal danseuse of the establishment, who was at the time of the rising of the curtain consulting a mirror in regard to the effect produced by the application of a rouge-laden rabbit's foot to her cheeks, and whose toilet we must remark, passim, was not entirely completed. ["New York Musical Review and Gazette," Nov. 29, 1856]

Rabbit ears "dipole television antenna" is from 1950. Grose's 1788 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" has "RABBIT CATCHER. A midwife."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with rabbit

rabbit

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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