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Jun 23, 2021
This week’s theme
Rodents

This week’s words
myology
mouse potato
rat race
mousy
clicktivism

rat race
“Dude, have you found the cheese yet?”
Cartoon: Dan Piraro

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

rat race

PRONUNCIATION:
(RAT rays)

MEANING:
noun: A repetitive competitive activity, such as the modern working life in which one constantly struggles to attain wealth, status, etc.

ETYMOLOGY:
From rat, from Old English raet (rat) + race, from Old Norse ras (race). Earliest documented use: 1937.

USAGE:
The term started out as a literal racing of rats (earliest use 1783). Then it was used as military slang (1931) to refer to planes or ships chasing each other or racing. Eventually the term evolved into its current sense. Imagine a rat running through a laboratory maze to find another piece of cheese or an employee hoping to climb the next rung of the corporate ladder while sacrificing personal health and peace and you’d have a good idea of the term rat race. In French, a popular expression métro, boulot, dodo (commute, work, sleep) refers to the daily grind. Also see, sisyphean.

USAGE:
“Tayler had submerged herself into this slowpaced life and wasn’t ready to get back to the rat race.”
Bridget Anderson; When I Fall in Love; Harlequin Kimani; 2016.

See more usage examples of rat race in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change. -Richard Bach, writer (b. 23 Jun 1936)

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