wharf rat


noun

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

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Origin of wharf rat

An Americanism dating back to 1815–25
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for wharf rat

  • 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
  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for wharf rat

wharf rat

noun

any rat, usually a brown rat, that infests wharves
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