by Zoe O'Brien
drowned rat : to look like one, indicating a pretty roughed up and tired appearance. A drowned anything looks fairly miserable but I guess being rat give it that extra touch of pathetic misery.
gutter rat : slang for a homeless street child, probably coined by some wealthy jerk who thought he was being amusing.
mall rats : youth who spend most of their time hanging out in malls doing nothing in general
Pied Piper of Hamelin : A legendary/mythical figure who was paid to drive away the rats from the German city of Hamelin during the medieval era. Playing his pipe, he lured them to the water where they all drowned. Demanding payment for his service, the cheapskate citypeople refused to pay him. So he played his pipe and lured the children of the town into a magical cave which closed and neither he nor the children were ever seen again by the town. Where he probably put them to work in sweatshops making "Pied Piper" pipes and plush rat toys.
Rats! : exclamation of dismay
rat's arse : as in "I don't give a rat's arse!", meaning you couldn't care less. Obviously a rat's arse isn't that much of a desirable item.
rat faced : to posess a narrow face with a pointy nose, beady eyes, and sometimes prominent front teeth.
rat fink : someone who betrays the trust of compatriots by giving vital information to their enemies. Also known as a "stool pigeon", a reference to that other natural scourge of human megatropolises.
rat hole : description of a place of residence declaring it to resemble the digs of a rat, complete with piles of belongings which threaten to topple over and smother the occupant.
rat king : a condition where several rats inhabiting cramped quarters (usually in large subterranean wild rat colonies) live so close together their tails become tangled and grow together. Unable to escape their knotted tails, the rest of colony feeds and maintains these invalids.
rat's nest : as in "You hair looks like rat's nest!", in other terms, a big mess. Usually applied to hair which has been ratted.
rat pack : slang for a group of young upstarts, most famously referring to the Las Vegas entertainment coalition of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and probably some other crooners also enjoyed lots of alcohol back when they were all young and not dead.
rat race : nickname to refer to the frenzied modern pace of life where workers struggle over top of one another for meagre gains and excessive stress.
rats from a sinking ship : according to lore, you can always tell when the ship is sinking because the rats are leaving. This is usually true because the rats occupy the lower bilge levels, where the water would appear first, thus alerting them first and starting the rodent evacuation. Used to describe when people are leaving a situation in a mass movement, indicating imminent destruction.
rat tail : a hair style adornment where a little pigtail hangs down off the back of the neck of an otherwise short haircut, giving the impressive that a rodent has crawled into your anterior cranium. The rat tail coiffure often leads to more hardcore styling mistakes like the mullet.
rat tail comb : a comb with a thin, pointy, tapered handle used for various styling tricks.
ratted hair : the practive of backcombing hair until it becomes a knotted, static mess.
Rattenkrieg : "Rat War" in German. The period of fighting during WW2 which pitted invading Nazi German forces against the defending Russians, battle taking place in Russian cities where the urban setting restricted troop manoeuvrability and forced skirmishes in close quarters with soldiers holed up in buildings and snipers on the roofs. The Germans compared it to rats fighting with one another in the large Russian apartment towers.
rat trap : slang for incredibly run-down and dangerous rental housing where the the residents lives are in danger (or at least very depressed) and rats often inhabit the walls.
ratty : a condition of shabbiness giving the impression of being chewed on by rats.
smell a rat : to suspect the involvement of a traitor in your midst. A reference to the fact that it's pretty easy to smell if a rat has been in your stuff "marking territory" all over it.