Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Rat poison, especially arsenic trioxide.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Rat poison; white arsenic.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Rat poison; white arsenic.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Rat-poison. Arsenious acid is often so called.
  • n. A plant, Chailletia toxicaria. See rat-poison, 2.
  • To poison with ratsbane.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a white powdered poisonous trioxide of arsenic; used in manufacturing glass and as a pesticide (rat poison) and weed killer

Etymologies

From rat's +‎ bane. Compare henbane. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Early in June Judith, walking in the wood, brought home the splendid red wood lily, and a cluster too of "ratsbane," with its flowers like a little crown of white wax.

    Judith of the Cumberlands

  • We spend some time with "The Shakespeare Insult Kit," which offers choice adjectives and nouns from the Bard's work that one can configure in any number of combinations, such as "thou dankish, fat-kidneyed moldwarp" or "thou mammering, onion-eyed ratsbane."

    Buttering Up vs. Taking Down

  • I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth as offer to stop it with security.

    The second part of King Henry the Fourth

  • Roaring Ralph Stackpole, its natural ugliness greatly increased by countless scratches and spots of blood, the result of his leap down the ledge of rocks, when first set upon by the Indians, and his eyes squinting daggers and ratsbane, especially while he was giving utterance to that gallinaceous slogan with which he was wont to express his appetite for conflict, and with which he now concluded his unceremonious salutation.

    Nick of the Woods

  • How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignorance and corrupt doctrine? preaching that which was no better for their souls than ratsbane to the body, for filthy lucre's sake.

    The Riches of Bunyan

  • If there are rat holes have them stopped with pieces of brick, and broken glass bottles; never use ratsbane without the greatest caution, as it is a dangerous remedy.

    Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers

  • If his Lordship had sent me an infusion of ratsbane in the loving-cup, I should have taken it much more kindly at his hands.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 12, No. 70, August, 1863

  • All possible endeavours were used also to destroy the mice and rats, especially the latter, by laying ratsbane and other poisons for them, and a prodigious multitude of them were also destroyed.

    A Journal Of The Plague Year

  • The news that Blair was coming to the evening meal was highly disconcerting, and the worried cook even contemplated the possibility of doctoring the American's plate of soup with ratsbane or hemlock.

    Kathleen

  • Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o’er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor.

    Act III. Scene IV. King Lear

Comments

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  • Heaven and earth! he is a man of the nicest scruples in money matters. Not one of your shabby fellows, always spunging upon his friends, and ready to take up money wherever he can get it! Running in debt is ratsbane to him.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 5 ch. 1

    September 19, 2008