A taxidermied black rat (Rattus rattus) in the Haus Ruhrnatur in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany



smell a rat (third-person singular simple present smells a rat, present participle smelling a rat, simple past and past participle smelt a rat or smelled a rat)

  1. (idiomatic) To sense something suspicious.
    • 1663, John Dryden, The Wild Gallant: A Comedy, act 4, scene 1:
      Oh, are you thereabouts, sir? then I smell a rat, i’faith; but I'll say nothing.
    • 1874, Anthony Trollope, Phineas Redux, ch. 40:
      Mr. Gresham, when he heard this, thought that he began to smell a rat, and was determined to be on his guard.


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