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rabbit

[ rab-it ]
/ ˈræb ɪt /
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See synonyms for: rabbit / rabbits / rabbity on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural rab·bits, (especially collectively) rab·bit for 1-3.
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.
any of various small hares.
the fur of a rabbit or hare, often processed to imitate another fur.
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.
British Informal. a person who is poor at sports, especially golf, tennis, or cricket.
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Idioms about rabbit

    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

OTHER WORDS FROM rabbit

rab·bit·like, rab·bit·y, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH rabbit

rabbet, rabbit , rarebit, rebate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

BEHIND THE WORD

Where does rabbit come from?

There’s just something about the names of some of the most familiar animals. Like dog, the origin of the word rabbit is obscure. But, at least we are few hops closer to a source with rabbit than we are with dog.

Found in Middle English, rabbit originally meant “young rabbit, bunny,” and was most likely borrowed from a French word. Scholars point us to the Walloon robett and the dialectical Dutch robbe. But from there, it’s an etymological rabbit hole.

Walloon is a French dialect chiefly spoken in southern and southeastern Belgium and neighboring regions in France.

Unsure about the difference between a rabbit and a hare? We’ve got you covered!

Did you know … ?

Because they have so many natural predators, rabbits are famously skittish animals. They can rotate their ears 180 degrees and can pinpoint sounds. Rabbits even use their own “language” of subtle facial twitches and other movements to warn their kin.

The word bunny is often used as an informal synonym of rabbit, as in Bugs Bunny is a rascally rabbit—er, wascally wabbit? The word hare is also commonly used to mean a rabbit, but the two words have different origins, not to mention the fact that they are separate species.

Rabbit is used in a number of idioms and phrases that reference the critter in some way, such as rabbit ears (indoor television antennae, if you remember those) or the expression to breed like rabbits, which alludes to the animal’s proficiency in … making more rabbits.

How to use rabbit in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rabbit

rabbit
/ (ˈræbɪt) /

noun plural -bits or -bit
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
the fur of such an animal
British informal a novice or poor performer at a game or sport
verb
(intr) to hunt or shoot rabbits
(intr ; often foll by on or away) British informal to talk inconsequentially; chatter

Word Origin for rabbit

(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

Other Idioms and Phrases with rabbit

rabbit

see pull (a rabbit) out of a hat.

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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