Meaning: When we feel that something someone says, or something we read, is not honest, we smell a rat.
- to suspect that something is wrong; to sense that someone has caused something wrong – I don’t think this was an accident. I smell a rat. Bob had something to do with this. The minute I came in, I smelled a rat. Sure enough, I had been robbed.
- to start to believe that something is wrong about a situation, especially that someone is being dishonest – She smelled a rat when she phoned him at the office where he was supposed to be working late and he wasn’t there.
- to believe something is wrong – When my husband started working late three or four times a week, I smelled a rat.
Did you know?
This phrase is said to come from the days when rats were common pests and carriers of disease. Dogs were prized for their ability to smell out and destroy them. A dog which began to sniff around might well have smelt a rat, and this idea was transferred to a person who was suspicious of something.