Share this entry

Share this page

rabbit

Line breaks: rab¦bit
Pronunciation: /ˈrabɪt
 
/

Definition of rabbit in English:

noun

1A gregarious burrowing plant-eating mammal, with long ears, long hind legs, and a short tail.
  • Family Leporidae: several genera and species, in particular the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which is often kept as a pet or raised for food
Example sentences
  • The chances of survival for South Africa's most endangered mammal, the riverine rabbit, looks even more desperate than has commonly been feared.
  • Appearances were put in by eastern chipmunks, gray squirrels, a rabbit and our new resident woodchuck.
  • Two new extinct species are named (a rabbit and squirrel) and two of the mustelids may represent extinct new species as well.
Synonyms
British coney
children's word bunny (rabbit)
1.1 [mass noun] The flesh of the rabbit as food: chunks of rabbit and chicken [as modifier]: rabbit pies
More example sentences
  • From every kitchen in the village arose the most delicious aromas: apple pies, rabbit and chicken pies, fairy cakes, pancakes.
  • Wild rabbit has a much darker flesh than farmed rabbit, but both are extremely versatile and, because of the price, you can afford to experiment.
  • My recipe for today is an old Australian country recipe for rabbit pie.
1.2 [mass noun] The fur of the rabbit.
Example sentences
  • Typical usage is a simple trim on a hood or wrap scarf and the fur might just as easily be rabbit as mink.
  • There were platform shoes, rabbit coats, sausage curls and blue eye shadow - and the women weren't a pretty sight either.
1.3 North American term for hare.
1.4 informal A poor performer in a sport or game, in particular (in cricket) a poor batsman: he was a total rabbit with the bat
More example sentences
  • Elsewhere both the English and Indian rabbits failed miserably in their quest for world domination.
1.5US A runner who acts as pacesetter in the first laps of a race.
2British informal A conversation: we had quite a heated rabbit about it
[from rabbit and pork, rhyming slang for 'talk']

verb (rabbits, rabbiting, rabbited)

[no object] Back to top  
1 (usually as noun rabbiting) Hunt rabbits: locate the area where you can go rabbiting
More example sentences
  • Hunting with dogs would ban a number of less well-known bloodsports, like hare coursing, mink hunting, rabbiting with terriers.
  • This was it, Evelyn recalls thinking, everything would go back to how it used to be; they would go rabbiting in the Phoenix Park, take trips in the car and visit the strawberry beds.
  • It does, however, need plenty of exercise and will enjoy a days rabbiting, should the opportunity arise.
2British informal Talk at length, especially about trivial matters: stop rabbiting on, will you, and go to bed!
More example sentences
  • Our mate Robbo came over here for a few weeks last year and when he got back he couldn't stop rabbiting on about the place.
  • Some of you may remember, in the dim and distant recesses of your cobwebbed memory, that last week I was rabbiting on about my son's chums and their abundance of confidence when it came to chit-chatting with adults.
  • He answered the shop phone and an executive-type started rabbiting on about buying a laptop computer.
3 informal Move quickly; run away: he rabbited as soon as he saw us coming
More example sentences
  • I noticed another junkie watching me: he was trying to decide whether to rabbit or freeze.
  • Carlos wants to know why they rabbited and did someone tip them off.
  • A rushing in the bushes to her left let her know the Doolittle boys had rabbited.

Origin

late Middle English: apparently from Old French (compare with French dialect rabotte 'young rabbit'), perhaps of Dutch origin (compare with Flemish robbe).

Phrases

breed like rabbits

1
informal Reproduce prolifically: they drank like fishes and bred like rabbits
More example sentences
  • Indeed, the main reason for the continued increase in world population is, in the words of a UN consultant, ‘not that people suddenly started breeding like rabbits; it's just that they stopped dying like flies’ .
  • He is trying to prevent bunnies breeding like rabbits.
  • As for those damned geese, covering our footpaths with droppings, the things breed like rabbits and, on more than one occasion, have stopped traffic as they saunter across our roads.

pull (or bring) a rabbit out of the (or a) hat

2
Do something unexpected but ingeniously effective in response to a problem: everyone is waiting to see if the king can pull a rabbit out of the hat and announce a ceasefire the Finance Minister pulled a few rabbits out of the hat to balance the Budget last year
More example sentences
  • A tall order, in particular for the seniors, but with victory at this level long overdue don't be at all surprised if the team pulls a rabbit out of the hat in the guise of a victory that would send us careering into the semi final.
  • Kind of like pulling a rabbit out of the hat, only with the Supreme Court.
  • All musicians understand that even after years of musical scholarship, in the end, composing successfully is a lot like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

thank your mother for the rabbits

3
Australian A catchphrase used as a farewell: see you tomorrow and thank your mother for the rabbits
[popularly attributed to the Depression years when rabbits were welcome gifts]
More example sentences
  • Once the specifications have been read or the bike test ridden, game over; thank your mother for the rabbits and we'll see you in a couple of months for a complimentary service.
  • I held onto the position for so many years and then was turfed out without so much as a 'Thank your mother for the rabbits'.
  • Nana would shout a friendly ‘Bye!‘ and then utter, under her breath, ‘and thank your mother for the rabbits!’

Derivatives

rabbity

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • The playwright's rabbity, put-upon Everyloser is a clock-tower sniper in the making; a weird, nervous, socially maladjusted little knot of nerves riddled with neuroses, delusions and obsessive-compulsions.
  • There - munching on a pot plant, stuffing his insolent rabbity face.
  • He paused, his black, rabbity eyes examining the audience.

Definition of rabbit in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day orthoepy
Pronunciation: ôrˈTHōəpē
noun
the correct or accepted pronunciation of words