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pack rat

Also called trade rat, wood rat. a large, bushy-tailed rodent, Neotoma cinerea, of North America, noted for carrying off small articles to store in its nest.
Informal. a person who saves things that are not needed or used but that may have personal or other value.
Informal. an old prospector or guide.
Also, packrat.


[pak-rat] /ˈpækˌræt/
verb (used with object), pack-ratted, pack-ratting. Informal.
to save in the manner of a pack rat:
I’m looking through the stuff my grandpa pack-ratted away in the attic.
Also, packrat. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pack rat
  • Cur principal native rats are the rice rat, the cotton rat, and that friendly nuisance: the wood rat or pack rat.
  • Playing the flute triggers his gift as a changeling, and each night he turns into a pack rat.
  • Stay away from rodents and rodent burrows or dens such as pack rat nests.
  • Evidence of pack rat habitation in the mine adit and cave is also present.
British Dictionary definitions for pack rat

pack rat

any rat of the genus Neotoma, of W North America, having a long tail that is furry in some species: family Cricetidae Also called wood rat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pack rat



common name for the North American bushytailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea) 1885, from pack (v.); so called from the rodents' habit of dragging objects off to their holes. Used figuratively or allusively from c.1850 of persons who won't discard anything, which means either the rat's name is older than the record or the human sense is the original one.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pack rat

pack rat

noun phrase

A person who cannot discard anything acquired; a compulsive keeper and storer (1850+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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