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pack-rat

or pack·rat

[pak-rat]
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verb (used with object), pack-rat·ted, pack-rat·ting. Informal.
  1. to save in the manner of a pack rat: I’m looking through the stuff my grandpa pack-ratted away in the attic.
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pack rat

or pack·rat

noun
  1. Also called trade rat, wood rat. a large, bushy-tailed rodent, Neotoma cinerea, of North America, noted for carrying off small articles to store in its nest.
  2. Informal. a person who saves things that are not needed or used but that may have personal or other value.
  3. Informal. an old prospector or guide.
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Origin of pack rat

First recorded in 1840–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pack-rat

Historical Examples

  • A pack-rat is about three times as big as a barn rat, an fifteen times as energetic.

    Friar Tuck

    Robert Alexander Wason

  • Then either the pack-rat reformed into a trade-rat, or else he sold out his claim to a trade-rat.

    Friar Tuck

    Robert Alexander Wason

  • A pack-rat dont care a peg whether he can use an article or not; all he asks is the privilege of totin it about somewhere.

    Friar Tuck

    Robert Alexander Wason

  • The pack-rat ran back to its hole and made its exit without loss of time, but Clarice sobbed aloud in hysterical fear.

    Hope Hathaway

    Frances Parker


British Dictionary definitions for pack-rat

pack rat

noun
  1. any rat of the genus Neotoma, of W North America, having a long tail that is furry in some species: family CricetidaeAlso called: wood rat
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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 pack-rat

n.

common name for the North American bushytailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea) 1885, from pack (v.); so called from the rodents' habit of dragging objects off to their holes. Used figuratively or allusively from c.1850 of persons who won't discard anything, which means either the rat's name is older than the record or the human sense is the original one.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper