Definition of rat-tat in English:


(also rat-a-tat, rat-tat-tat)


  • A rapping sound (used especially in reference to a sequence of knocks on a door or the sound of gunfire)

    ‘there was a loud rat-tat on the heavy door’
    ‘the rat-tat of the Kalashnikovs’
    • ‘‘The man looks for a drug, finds the drug, becomes clairvoyant from it,’ says Theroux in a rat-a-tat summary of the plot.’
    • ‘It resembles musical notation; the dots have the rat-a-tat of a man sending code.’
    • ‘Several species of hummingbirds flit about the blooms of the Arizona trumpet and the desert honeysuckle, while the rat-tat-tat of five different kinds of woodpeckers may be heard.’
    • ‘Drops of water the size of a baby's fist come splattering down with the rat-tat-tat of hailstones in their wake.’
    • ‘That's when I heard the gunfire. A constant rat-a-tat of machine guns and the screaming of women mixed with the sounds of battle.’
    • ‘I swooped down on them, making the rat-a-tat sound of the turret guns and the thud and boom of the bombs.’
    • ‘Swing is about the dancing, the music, the spirit of lower-class youth, the rat-tat-tat of a song you just can't get out of your head.’
    • ‘He had a rat-a-tat style that was perfectly married to the rhythm of the game he called.’
    • ‘The household was roused this morning by a rat-tat-tat on the door.’
    • ‘The rat-a-tat of the copier in a back office, punctuated by the ring of phones coming from everywhere, like fragments of celestial music trapped in a singularity.’
    • ‘From another direction, it's the rat-a-tat of a video game, syncopated with the clickity-click of the buttons of the controller in the hands of teenage boys.’
    • ‘Most candidates are repelled by the rat-a-tat - tat of constant attack and counterattack that is standard fare in most competitive campaigns.’
    • ‘Out in all weather, bringing a friendly rat-tat-tat to many an isolated cottage door, sharing a bit of news, taking a message to a doctor or priest if someone was in trouble.’
    • ‘It wasn't the rat-a-tat of the machine guns, nor the dull shocks of the artillery.’
    • ‘Next second, teapots and sausages explode into the air, and the rat-a-tat of small-arms fire sends everyone diving for cover.’
    • ‘Every once in a while, a rat-a-tat of heavy rain would pelt the windows, drowning out the demanding drone of wind.’
    • ‘They sat there in complete silence, save for the consistent rat-tat-tat of Gabe's leg knocking over and over against the hard metal of the chair.’
    • ‘He began to concentrate on the rat-a-tat of the film rolling through the projector.’
    • ‘In-depth analysis gets mowed down by the rat-tat-tat of one-liners.’
    • ‘Beneath the bubbling sixteenths an obsessive rhythm, a rat-a-tat on a repeated note with a semitone fillip on the end, adds to the feeling of desperation.’
    beat, rhythm, patter, tap, chatter, pounding, thump, thumping, thud, thudding, rattle, rattling, pitter-patter, rat-a-tat, pit-a-pat, thrum, tattoo, vibration, throb, throbbing, pulsation
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Late 17th century: imitative.