Idioms for rat

    smell a rat, to suspect or surmise treachery; have suspicion: After noting several discrepancies in his client's story, the attorney began to smell a rat.

Origin of rat

before 1000; Middle English rat(t)e, Old English ræt; cognate with Dutch rat, German Ratz, Ratte

OTHER WORDS FROM rat

rat·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for smell a rat

rat
/ (ræt) /

noun

verb rats, ratting or ratted

(intr usually foll by on) informal
  1. to divulge secret information (about); betray the trust (of)
  2. to default (on); abandonhe ratted on the project at the last minute
to hunt and kill rats
See also rats

Derived forms of rat

ratlike, adjective

Word Origin for rat

Old English rætt; related to Old Saxon ratta, Old High German rato
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

Medicine definitions for smell a rat

rat
[ răt ]

n.

Any of various long-tailed rodents of the genus Rattus and related genera, including certain strains used in scientific research and certain species that are vectors for various diseases.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Culture definitions for smell a rat

smell a rat

To sense foul play: “They claim they will honor the terms of the contract, but I smell a rat.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with smell a rat (1 of 2)

smell a rat

Suspect something is wrong, especially a betrayal of some kind. For example, When I didn't hear any more from my prospective employer, I began to smell a rat. This expression alludes to a cat sniffing out a rat. [c. 1550]

Idioms and Phrases with smell a rat (2 of 2)

rat

In addition to the idioms beginning with rat

  • rat on
  • rat race

also see:

  • like a drowned rat
  • smell a rat
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.