• synonyms


  1. a hole made by a rat, as into a room, barn, etc.: The first chore in the old building is to plug up the ratholes.
  2. the burrow or shelter of a rat.
  3. any small and uncomfortable room, office, apartment, etc., especially one that is dirty or disordered: He lives in a rathole near the docks.
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  1. down the rathole, for a worthless purpose or purposes: seeing your inheritance disappear down the rathole.
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Origin of rathole

First recorded in 1805–15; rat + hole
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rat-hole

Historical Examples of rat-hole

  • There is some stolen stuff hidden in this rat-hole, I expect.

    The White Lie

    William Le Queux

  • Even if it were only a rat-hole, he might be able to enlarge it, now that he had tools with which to work.

  • The day, which was only dawning, still left many shadows in the Rat-Hole.

  • "Then the Cat will ask if it's a rat-hole," said Davy, laughing at the idea.

    Davy and The Goblin

    Charles E. Carryl

  • He poured in the guineas, but it was like pouring water into a rat-hole.

Word Origin and History for rat-hole


also rathole, 1812 in figurative sense of "nasty, messy place;" rat (n.) + hole (n.). As "bottomless hole" (especially one where money goes) from 1961.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper