rab·bit / ˈrabit/ • n. a burrowing, gregarious, plant-eating mammal (family Leporidae) with long ears, long hind legs, and a short tail. ∎ the fur of the rabbit. ∎ another term for hare. ∎ a runner who acts as pacesetter in the first laps of a race. • v. (rabbited , rabbiting ) [intr.] hunt rabbits. PHRASES: pull a rabbit out of the hat used to describe an action that is fortuitous, and may involve sleight of hand or deception.DERIVATIVES: rab·bit·y adj. ORIGIN: late Middle English: apparently from Old French (compare French dialect rabotte ‘young rabbit’), perhaps of Dutch origin (compare Flemish robbe).
In North American usage, rabbit may be used as a term for hare, and be taken as a type of speed in running ( John Updike's character Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom derives his nickname from this).
Brer Rabbit the hero of many of the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris, which typically centre on the unavailing efforts of Brer Fox to outwit and catch the cunning Brer Rabbit.
pull a rabbit out of a hat achieve an action that is fortuitous, and may involve sleight of hand or deception; the reference is to a stage conjuror making a rabbit appear (or disappear).
rabbit's foot traditionally taken as a good-luck charm (the word rabbits spoken on the first day of the month, was supposed to bring good luck). Rabbits are also alluded to as typically made to appear or disappear by a conjuror.
See also Peter Rabbit at Peter2, White Rabbit at white.