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rat / rat/ • n. 1. a rodent (Rattus and other genera, family Muridae) that resembles a large mouse, typically having a pointed snout and a long, sparsely haired tail. Some kinds have become cosmopolitan and are sometimes responsible for transmitting diseases. 2. inf. a person regarded as despicable, esp. a man who has been deceitful or disloyal. ∎  an informer. 3. a person who is associated with or frequents a specified place: mall rats. 4. a pad used to give shape or fullness to a woman’s hair. • interj. (rats) inf. used to express mild annoyance or irritation. • v. (ratted , ratting ) [intr.] 1. [usu. as n.] (ratting) (of a person, dog, or cat) hunt or kill rats. 2. inf. desert one's party, side, or cause. 3. give (hair) shape or fullness with a rat.

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RAT (Heb. חֹלֶד, ḥoled, mod. Heb. חֻלְדָּה, ḥuldah, jps and av "weasel"), rodent. Two species of rat are found in Israel, Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus. The second only reached the country in approximately the 18th century. Ḥuldah occurs as the name of a prophetess (ii Kings 22:14, the same verse including two other names taken from the world of fauna: shafan ("coney") and akhbar ("mouse")). In the Torah ḥoled is mentioned with the akhbar among the unclean creeping things, from which it seems that holed is the same as ḥuldah (so rendered by Onkelos) where the Palestinian Targum (cf. Meg. 14b) has kirkushta, "rat." The name ḥuldah is derived from ḥalod ("to undermine"); "ḥuldah that undermines the foundations of the houses" (Pes. 118b in Ms. Munich). The ḥuldah is frequently mentioned in rabbinic literature. It is said to drag food into its nest for storage (Pes. 1:2; tj, Shab. 14:1, 14c; Lev. R. 6:2). There is a well-known legend of "the rat [ḥuldah] and the pit," in which the ḥuldah bit the child of a man who did not keep faith with a maiden and married another (see Rashi, Ta'an. 8a). These characteristics do not apply to the cat or the polecat (Mustela nivalis), with which some have identified the ḥuldah. The polecat is not found in Israel, neither does it store up its food.


Lewysohn, Zool, 101f. (no. 135), 107f. (no. 139); F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), 227 (index), s.v.Rattus; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 42; M. Dor, Leksikon Zo'ologi (1965), 122. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 226.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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ratat, bat, brat, cat, chat, cravat, drat, expat, fat, flat, frat, gat, gnat, hat, hereat, high-hat, howzat, lat, mat, matt, matte, Montserrat, Nat, outsat, pat, pit-a-pat, plait, plat, prat, Rabat, rat, rat-tat, Sadat, sat, scat, Sebat, shabbat, shat, skat, slat, spat, splat, sprat, stat, Surat, tat, that, thereat, tit-for-tat, vat, whereat •fiat • floreat • exeat • caveat •Croat, Serbo-Croat •Nanga Parbat • brickbat • dingbat •combat, wombat •fruitbat • numbat • acrobat • backchat •whinchat • chitchat • samizdat •concordat • Arafat • Jehoshaphat •butterfat • Kattegat • hard hat •sun hat • fat cat • hellcat • requiescat •scaredy-cat • Magnificat • copycat •pussycat • wildcat • bobcat • tomcat •Sno-Cat • polecat • muscat • meerkat •mudflat • cervelat •doormat, format •diplomat • laundromat • Zermatt •Donat • cowpat

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rat the rat has traditionally been taken as the type of a cunning and vicious animal, especially (as in the saying that rats desert a sinking ship) one ready to betray a cause, or to rat.
rat pack a group of journalists and photographers who pursue celebrities in a relentless or aggressive way.
The Rat Pack was the name given to the group of 1960s actors that included Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr.
rat race a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power.
rat run a minor, typically residential street used by drivers during peak periods to avoid congestion on main roads.

See also rats.

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rat Any of numerous small rodents found worldwide. Most species are herbivorous. The best known are the black rat (Rattus rattus) and brown rat (R. norvegicus), both of the family Muridae. They carry diseases and destroy or contaminate property and food. Both live everywhere that humans live.

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1. (Old World) See MURIDAE.

2. (New World) See CRICETIDAE.

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rats rats desert a sinking ship people hurry to get away from a failing enterprise or organization; the idea is that as a ship sank rats would be seen emerging from it to try to seek safety.

See also rat.

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rat1 rodent of the genus Rattus. OE. ræt, reinforced in late ME. from (O)F. rat :- Rom. *rattus; ult. orig. unkn. In ME. raton (mod. dial. ratton, ratten) was the more frequent word. (- OF. raton, f. rat with augm. suffix).

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rat2 (mild imprecation) XVII. repr. affected pronunc. of ROT vb.

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