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Etymology 1[edit]

From rat +‎ -y (suffix meaning ‘having the quality of’ forming adjective).[1]


ratty (comparative rattier, superlative rattiest)

  1. Resembling or characteristic of a rat; ratlike.
    Synonym: rattish
  2. Infested with rats.
  3. (figurative, informal)
    1. In poor condition or repair.
      Synonyms: battered, tattered, tatty, torn, worn out
      • 1884 December 10, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter IX, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade) [], London: Chatto & Windus, [], →OCLC, page 78:
        We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher knife without any handle, and a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty old bed-quilt off the bed, [] and just as we were leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg.
      • 2000, George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords, Bantam, published 2011, page 535:
        The Marcher lord was still clad in his ratty black cloak and dented breastplate with its chipped enamel lightning.
      • 2006, Clive James, North Face of Soho, Picador, published 2007, page 80:
        I was having exactly that thought on a ratty mock-leather couch in Islington.
    2. (Australia) Crazy, mad; ridiculous; slightly strange, eccentric; also (followed by about, on, or over), attracted to, infatuated with.
    3. (originally Britain) Annoyed, bad-tempered, irritable.
      Synonyms: see Thesaurus:annoyed, Thesaurus:irritable
      • 2009, Ian McDonald, River of Gods:
        He got bad, he got ratty, he would take it out on people around him. He was mean when it turned against him.
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ ratty, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021; “ratty, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]


ratty (uncountable)

  1. Synonym of knock down ginger (prank of knocking on a front door and running away)