from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An inclosure in which rats are baited or killed. The object is to ascertain how many rats a dog can kill in a given time, or which of two or more dogs can kill them most rapidly.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • You will be stabbed, and they will throw you, shroud and all, into a rat-pit.


  • He had a scar on his face, and two fingers missing; he was handsome in a picaresque way, but looked as tough as a rat-pit terrier.


  • Before I shipped that young fellow, my forecastle was a rat-pit of quarrels.

    Billy Budd

  • In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record.

    INTERNET WIRETAP: The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce (1993 Edition)

  • We organized a club, which we called the Cock and Spur, and had a rat-pit and cock-fights in the cellar, on which occasions we invited out young actors from the Boston Museum and Howard Athenaeum stock companies.

    The Confessions of Artemas Quibble

  • The British flung in on top of the defenders like terriers into a rat-pit, and the fighters snarled and worried and scuffled and clutched and tore at each other more like savage brutes than men.

    Between the Lines

  • The rat-pit, the drawing of the badger, the bloody battling of the bull terriers, the high betting, the Gargantuan eating and drinking and shouting, the smashing of glasses and plates, the imperturbable footmen in green and gold liveries calmly replacing in their chairs the guests overcome by strong potations -- it was a picture for Hogarth's pencil at its best, or Gillray's at its craziest.

    Fifth Avenue

  • Kurrell looked round the rat-pit of Kashima and made no reply.

    Under the Deodars

  • Jenks was watching her, watching the remaining Dyaks, from whom a spluttering volley came, picking out his quarry with the murderous ease of a terrier in a rat-pit.

    The Wings of the Morning

  • 'Kit' Burn's rat-pit will also be opened for religious services on Monday next; but the public need not be deceived in the matter of his reformation.

    The Secrets of the Great City


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