rat race

Save This Word!

noun Informal.
any exhausting, unremitting, and usually competitive activity or routine, especially a pressured urban working life spent trying to get ahead with little time left for leisure, contemplation, etc.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of rat race

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40

historical usage of rat race

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use rat race in a sentence

  • The Daily Pic: James Nares slows Manhattan's rat race to a snail's pace.

    New York on Quaaludes|Blake Gopnik|April 23, 2013|DAILY BEAST
  • To stay, and attempt to make the cartel rat-race over, sweetly and rationally so that no one would be hurt?

    The Cartels Jungle|Irving E. Cox, Jr.
  • They suffered the ever-present agitation of envy, the constant comparison to one's superiors, the plagued rat race.

    After the Rain|Sam Vaknin
  • But under torment of insomnia the many selves of the mind may abandon the congress of reason and start a rat-race.

British Dictionary definitions for rat race

rat race

a continual routine of hectic competitive activityworking in the City is a real rat race
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 rat race

rat race

Fierce competition to maintain or improve one's position in the workplace or social life. For example, You may not realize what a rat race it is to get research grants. This term presumably alludes to the rat's desperate struggle for survival. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]

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