- a person who abandons or betrays his or her party or associates, especially in a time of trouble.
- an informer.
- a scab laborer.
verb (used without object), rat·ted, rat·ting.
- to desert one's party or associates, especially in a time of trouble.
- to turn informer; squeal: He ratted on the gang, and the police arrested them.
- to work as a scab.
verb (used with object), rat·ted, rat·ting.
- rat cheese,
- rat claw foot,
- rat fink,
- rat guard,
- rat islands
Origin of rat
Examples from the Web for ratted
I have no idea if he is the “friend” who ratted me out to Joseph Nye.
“I ratted on the Aryan Brotherhood,” said former member Sullivan.What’s So Scary About the Texas Aryan Brotherhood? Take a Look at the Indictments|Christine Pelisek|April 3, 2013|DAILY BEAST
But every so often he mutters that he’ll get even with someone by the name of Otto—a fellow sailor who ‘ratted.
Only about that dreadful Mr Trenchard; you know the reason why he ratted?Sybil|Benjamin Disraeli
If claims are ratted it is said there are strangers about, and the miners deal with rats according to their own ideas of justice.The Black Opal|Katharine Susannah Prichard
Matthew, we know, played the traitor; and though Mackworth ratted to my own side, I fear it must be confessed that he did rat.Essays in English Literature, 1780-1860|George Saintsbury
You remember how Anchor Joe talked about someone who had ‘ratted’?
verb rats, ratting or ratted
- to divulge secret information (about); betray the trust (of)
- to default (on); abandonhe ratted on the project at the last minute
Word Origin for rat
late Old English ræt "rat," of uncertain origin. Similar words are found in Celtic (Gaelic radan), Romanic (Italian ratto, Spanish rata, French rat) and Germanic (Old Saxon ratta; Dutch rat; German Ratte, dialectal Ratz; Swedish råtta, Danish rotte) languages, but connection is uncertain and origin unknown. In all this it is very much like cat.
Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *rattus, but Weekley thinks this is of Germanic origin, "the animal having come from the East with the race-migrations" and the word passing thence to the Romanic languages. American Heritage and Tucker connect Old English ræt to Latin rodere and thus PIE *red- "to scrape, scratch, gnaw," source of rodent (q.v.). Klein says there is no such connection and suggests a possible cognate in Greek rhine "file, rasp." Weekley connects them with a question mark and Barnhart writes, "the relationship to each other of the Germanic, Romance, and Celtic words for rat is uncertain." OED says "probable" the rat word spread from Germanic to Romanic, but takes no position on ultimate origin.
RATS. Of these there are the following kinds: a black rat and a grey rat, a py-rat and a cu-rat. ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," Grose, 1788]
Middle English common form was ratton, from augmented Old French form raton. Sense of "one who abandons his associates" (1620s) is from belief that rats leave a ship about to sink or a house about to fall and led to meaning "traitor, informant" (1902; verb 1910). Interjection rats is American English, 1886. To smell a rat is 1540s; "to be put on the watch by suspicion as the cat by the scent of a rat; to suspect danger" [Johnson]. _____-rat, "person who frequents _____" (in earliest reference dock-rat) is from 1864.
1812, "to desert one's party; 1864 as "to catch rats;" 1921 as "to peach on, inform on, behave dishonestly toward;" from rat (n.). Related: Ratted; ratting.
In addition to the idioms beginning with rat
- rat on
- rat race
- like a drowned rat
- smell a rat