smell a rat

smell a rat


  • sense that something is not right
  • suspect trickery or deception
  • realize that something is not as supposed to be
  • suspect that something wrong is happening


  1. When he made that offer, I smelt a rat. It sounded too good to be true.
  2. His wife smelt a rat when he suddenly started working late for the past few weeks.
  3. I don’t think these files were deleted by mistake. I smell a rat. Maybe he has something to do with it.
  4. The minute I walked in for the scheduled interview, I smelt a rat. Sure enough, it was a phoney company and intended to rip me off.
  5. He smelt a rat when his wife said she didn’t want to go on a vacation with him.
  6. The investment scheme looked a good one, but I smelt a rat when the adviser could not answer a few of my questions satisfactorily.
  7. I smelt a rat when I found some items missing from my desk.

The origin of the phrase is not clear, however, it is believed that it refers to the smell of a dead rat, which is horrible and indicates that something is out of place.

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