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Ratbag

Thursday 27 December 2001

Any person whose eccentricity I find appealing I am apt to call a ratbag. To me, it’s a word that implies fondness, an Australian idiom it seems. The British dictionaries either don’t know the word, or don’t see any positive connotation in it, and my old Websters doesn’t know the word at all. Here’s what I found:

Macquarie dictionary (1991):
n. colloq. 1. a rascal; rogue. 2. a person of eccentric or nonconforming ideas or behaviour. 3. a person whose preoccupation with a particular theory or belief is seen as obsessive or discreditable: that Marxist ratbag. -ratbaggery, n. -ratbaggy, adj.

Australian national dictionary (1988):
“A trouble-maker, a rogue; an eccentric; a person to whom some opprobrium attaches. Also attrib. … [examples cut] … Hence ratbaggery n. … [examples cut]”

Cobuild English dictionary (1995):
“In British English, if you call someone a ratbag, you are insulting them; an offensive word. Lying ratbags, that’s what they are.

Pocket Oxford dictionary of current English (1996):
“n. slang obnoxious person.”

dictionary.com:
No entry.

Shorter Oxford English dictionary (1968):
No entry.

Webster’s new twentieth century dictionary (1960):
No entry.

filed under Ratbags + Words

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