Corruption of Welsh rabbit.
First attested by Francis Grose in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785; he erroneously marked Welsh rabbit as a corruption (inverting the historical order); this idea may have originated with him, or been widespread at the time.
Some insist that it be pronounced identically to rabbit, as the spelling is a corruption, while others insist that it be pronounced as rare-bit specifically to differentiate it from actual rabbit meat.
- ^ "When Francis Grose defined Welsh rabbit in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785, he mistakenly indicated that rabbit was a corruption of rarebit. It is not certain that this erroneous idea originated with Grose....", Dictionary of English Usage, p. 592
- ^ "Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.", Fowler, H. W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1926