Definition of smell a rat in English:

smell a rat


  • Suspect trickery or deception.

    • ‘Residents of Hopgrove were sent letters informing them their wheelie bins would arrive at the beginning of April but, when none turned up, they began to smell a rat.’
    • ‘Within a few days however somebody began to smell a rat when the ‘exact same letter’ - except for the signatures of course - began to turn up in eleven different US local newspaper groups.’
    • ‘They failed to smell a rat despite Baron Cohen's absurd questions.’
    • ‘She received payment from Scottish Amicable Life and Scottish Widows, but the third insurance company, Century Life, which was due to pay the largest amount of £287,562, smelt a rat and put an investigator on the case.’
    • ‘I smelt a rat and therefore we want a judicial probe into the whole incident to unearth the truth ‘, he said.’’
    • ‘As Bell was pathologically private about his past relationships, marriages and children, I smelt a rat, but it took me a while to recognise that the girl in the photograph he held out for me to look at was myself.’
    • ‘Neil smelt a rat and decided it was best not to proceed.’
    • ‘This is another reason for union leaders to smell a rat: it looks like this another attempt to privatize more city services.’
    • ‘In fact the paintwork was so perfect, with not a single scratch despite being four years old, that we started to smell a rat.’
    • ‘I only mention it in case you think you smell a rat, but I promise I have nothing to gain by singing its praises.’