Rat-arsed


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Rat arsed'?

Drunk.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Rat arsed'?

This addition to the myriad terms for being drunk entered the language in Britain in the 1990s. It is sometimes shortened just to ‘ratted’. It is a follow-on to the earlier phrase ‘as p***ed as a rat’. There wasn’t any particular reason to pick on rats, the choice seems almost arbitrary. Other creatures which have been used in similar phrases are newts, ticks, skunks – even lords:

As drunk as a lord
As drunk as a skunk
As p***ed as a newt
As tight as a tick

The first example I can find of the term in print is from a piece in The Guardian (Manchester), October 1992:

“The white Rhodesians acquired the undying admiration of their political allies in South Africa, so they thought, for their courageous defiance of world opinion in the face of sanctions. Actually, what really impressed them was that they defied the world even though most of them appeared to be rat-arsed from shortly after breakfast.”

Trend of rat – arsed in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.