Definition of rabbit in English:



  • 1A gregarious burrowing plant-eating mammal, with long ears, long hind legs, and a short tail.

    • ‘Deer, rabbits and foxes came racing out of the woods.’
    • ‘They take other small rodents, shrews, rabbits, gophers, bats, and muskrats as well.’
    • ‘Indeed, meat and pelts are a resource, but rabbits also destroy crops.’
    • ‘In other words, the Amami rabbit has been isolated for so long from other rabbits and hares, including the volcano rabbit, that they are scarcely kin.’
    • ‘They mostly eat rodents, eastern cottontail rabbits, insects, and fruit.’
    • ‘After all, to a shooting man the only good rabbit is a dead rabbit.’
    • ‘Foxes, rabbits, harvest mice, house mice, dormice, shrews, weasels, and voles all depend on the hedgerows as a place to breed, hunt or shelter.’
    • ‘Two new extinct species are named (a rabbit and squirrel) and two of the mustelids may represent extinct new species as well.’
    • ‘The chances of survival for South Africa's most endangered mammal, the riverine rabbit, looks even more desperate than has commonly been feared.’
    • ‘Deer, hares, rabbits, mice, rats, pigeons, crows and many insects have to be ‘controlled’ in order for these crops to thrive.’
    • ‘Rodents (except the groundhog) and members of the rabbit or hare families are rarely infected with rabies.’
    • ‘Appearances were put in by eastern chipmunks, gray squirrels, a rabbit and our new resident woodchuck.’
    • ‘The large, ever growing incisors in both rabbits and rodents do not undergo functional replacement.’
    • ‘English landowners introduced the European rabbit to the continent in 1859, seeking game animals for sport hunting.’
    • ‘The next day she found the white rabbit still had no food or water.’
    • ‘The rabbit was sitting up on its hind legs, still staring at her.’
    • ‘It is a patient bird, quite content to sit for hours at a time until a young rabbit, a rat or a mouse chances to pass beneath it.’
    • ‘Most of the animals that participate in the program are dogs and cats - the occasional rabbit and guinea pig are introduced from time to time.’
    • ‘The magnificent cats are taking their natural prey, such as deer and rabbits, but discovering also that sheep and cattle and goats are easier to catch.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, disappearing rabbits can signal declining health of grassland and sagebrush ecosystems.’
    1. 1.1[mass noun]The flesh of the rabbit as food.
      ‘chunks of rabbit and chicken’
      [as modifier] ‘rabbit pies’
      • ‘Exotic meats such as rabbit, venison and wild boar are available, in addition to countless varieties of sausages.’
      • ‘This weekend's patrons can expect to be served shrimp bisque or rabbit pie with bay-leaf juice.’
      • ‘Hot Cross Bunny turns out to be a recipe for curried rabbit that includes a shot of fiery Thai red curry paste.’
      • ‘The rabbit ballotine was so plain as to be almost unpleasant.’
      • ‘Sturdier ones, such as lavender, can be stuffed into chicken or rabbit before roasting, and then discarded later.’
      • ‘The substantial plate of rabbit was beautifully tender and came with the sort of gloriously rich sauce that you can feel furring up your arteries as you eat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fuller Pinot styles go well with poached or grilled salmon, foie gras, charcuterie, rabbit, hare, boar and ham.’
      • ‘The game selection in my dish included venison, rabbit and pigeon.’
      • ‘The document reveals that the bishop's menu would have included a range of meats, from mutton and beef to veal, geese, rabbit, duck and lamb.’
      • ‘If local meat eaters all got hooked on home-grown rabbit, imagine the effect on our food import bill.’
      • ‘My main course - confit of wild rabbit with Savoy cabbage and bacon with garlic and parsley mash - looked delectable.’
      • ‘My recipe for today is an old Australian country recipe for rabbit pie.’
      • ‘I scoffed everything my mother put in front of me - plate-sized Yorkshire puddings, meat and potato pie, rabbit and dumplings, the lot.’
      • ‘Like lamb cutlets, rabbit joints seem to be made for holding in your hands.’
      • ‘Cretan cuisine centres mainly on chicken, pork, lamb, rabbit or fish, served in a variety of non-spicy sauces.’
      • ‘My other food friend was excited by the presence of rabbit on the menu.’
      • ‘Add the chicken and rabbit and cook until golden brown, about five minutes.’
      • ‘I sampled a tender saddle of rabbit, wrapped in fatty Portuguese bacon and doused in a bubbly mustard emulsion.’
    2. 1.2[mass noun]The fur of the rabbit.
      • ‘There were platform shoes, rabbit coats, sausage curls and blue eye shadow - and the women weren't a pretty sight either.’
      • ‘Typical usage is a simple trim on a hood or wrap scarf and the fur might just as easily be rabbit as mink.’
    3. 1.3
      North American term for hare
    4. 1.4informal A poor performer in a sport or game, in particular (in cricket) a poor batsman.
      ‘he was a total rabbit with the bat’
      • ‘Elsewhere both the English and Indian rabbits failed miserably in their quest for world domination.’
    5. 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’
    discussion, talk, chat, gossip, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, head-to-head, exchange, dialogue, parley, consultation, conference
    View synonyms


  • 1Hunt rabbits.

    ‘locate the area where you can go rabbiting’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hunting with dogs would ban a number of less well-known bloodsports, like hare coursing, mink hunting, rabbiting with terriers.’
    • ‘I wanted to go out rabbiting with Oscar, but you've been gone ages and now he's gone to sleep.’
    • ‘Their excuse, said Mr Evans, was that they were visiting Cumbria for rabbiting and ferreting - an implausible explanation at a time when people were not allowed on to farmland because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.’
  • 2British informal Talk at length, especially about trivial matters.

    ‘stop rabbiting on, will you, and go to bed!’
    • ‘I'm starting to rabbit on now, so I'll stop there.’
    • ‘As she made her grateful escape, Mum is rabbiting on, ‘I hope she's got a good deodorant on a day like this.’’
    • ‘Given half a chance, she's rabbiting passionately about cultural strategies, architectural policies and the thorny problem of getting teenage girls into sport.’
    • ‘She was in the kitchen when I arrived, simultaneously rabbiting into a mobile phone while watching a soap opera on television.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The rest were rabbiting on about share prices, company takeovers, fashion accessories, holiday destinations or some such guff.’
    • ‘While he was rabbiting on about how we would jump off the cliffs at Barnageeragh, I slipped quietly away.’
    • ‘There is nothing in Part 1 about pensions, schools, holidays, or whatever he was rabbiting on about.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She is rabbiting on about antibiotics and bacterial resistance, which have nothing to do with the financial review debate.’
  • 3informal Move quickly; run away.

    ‘he rabbited as soon as he saw us coming’
    • ‘Carlos wants to know why they rabbited and did someone tip them off.’
    • ‘What had sent James rabbiting off to Bedfordshire when Mr. Turnbull was supposed to have gone?’
    • ‘I noticed another junkie watching me: he was trying to decide whether to rabbit or freeze.’
    • ‘A rushing in the bushes to her left let her know the Doolittle boys had rabbited.’
    • ‘I spotted him, and he rabbited and abandoned the car.’
    • ‘Frank, why did you rabbit?’


  • breed like rabbits

    • informal Reproduce prolifically.

      ‘they drank like fishes and bred like rabbits’
      • ‘The problem is, the things breed like rabbits, if we can mix our mammalian metaphors.’
      • ‘Yes, you would get the impression that conditions in the United States would lead to people breeding like rabbits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’ .’
      • ‘The only thing that keeps the system going is the ability of the prey to - for lack of a better analogy - breed like rabbits.’
      • ‘‘They're far less messy to keep than pigs,’ he explained, ‘live happily on seaweed, and best of all, breed like rabbits.’’
  • pull (or bring) a rabbit out of the (or a) hat

    • 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’
      • ‘As if pulling a rabbit out of a hat, a brand new state of the art television centre was being planned for west London.’
      • ‘Kind of like pulling a rabbit out of the hat, only with the Supreme Court.’
      • ‘Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the President magically placed battlefield responsibility in the hands of the battle commanders.’
      • ‘The finance minister seems to have pulled a rabbit out of the hat - reducing the tax rate and keeping the fiscal deficit under check at the same time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We are striking with extreme reluctance and keeping our fingers crossed that somebody can pull a rabbit out of the hat to solve the problem.’
      • ‘But the man famed for his patience and perseverance as much as his ability to conjure up the unlikeliest of big name signings, says he still has time to pull a rabbit out of the hat.’
      • ‘You turn around, you got the victim's family right behind you waiting on you to pull a rabbit out of the hat and make it all good.’
      • ‘But anytime the Minister for Finance was in trouble, he usually pulled a rabbit out of the hat to ensure the books balanced close to what he had predicted on Budget Day.’
      • ‘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.’
  • thank your mother for the rabbits

    • A catchphrase used as a farewell.

      ‘see you tomorrow and thank your mother for the rabbits’
      • ‘Bon voyage and thank your mother for the rabbits!’
      • ‘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'.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thanks for the lift and thank your mother for the rabbits.’
      • ‘I'm out of here, thank you boys, and 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!’’


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