wharf rat

  1. a large brown rat that is commonly found on wharves.
  2. a person who lives or loiters near wharves, often existing by pilfering from ships or warehouses.

Origin of wharf rat

An Americanism dating back to 1815–25
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wharf rat

Historical Examples of wharf rat

  • It was strong enough of nicotine to drive a wharf-rat to suicide.

    The Flying Bo'sun

    Arthur Mason

  • But you see, there aint a wharf-rat left in Windover as ud trust me now!

    A Singular Life

    Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

  • Jack guessed why Gray had tried to irritate him,—he saw that the well-known “wharf-rat” was to be his competitor.

    The Hoosier School-boy

    Edward Eggleston

British Dictionary definitions for wharf rat

wharf rat

  1. any rat, usually a brown rat, that infests wharves
  2. informal a person who haunts wharves, usually for dishonest purposes
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