any of various small rodents, as the kangaroo rat, inhabiting arid regions.
Chiefly Western U.S. one who lives in the desert, especially in order to prospect for gold or other valuable minerals.
Informal. a soldier fighting in the N African desert in World War II, especially a British soldier.
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Origin of desert rat
An Americanism dating back to 1905–10
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for desert rat
a jerboa, Jaculus orientalis, inhabiting the deserts of N Africa
British informal a soldier who served in North Africa with the British 7th Armoured Division in 1941–42
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