Definition of rabbit in English:



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

    • ‘The large, ever growing incisors in both rabbits and rodents do not undergo functional replacement.’
    • ‘The chances of survival for South Africa's most endangered mammal, the riverine rabbit, looks even more desperate than has commonly been feared.’
    • ‘Two new extinct species are named (a rabbit and squirrel) and two of the mustelids may represent extinct new species as well.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Deer, rabbits and foxes came racing out of the woods.’
    • ‘They take other small rodents, shrews, rabbits, gophers, bats, and muskrats as well.’
    • ‘Rodents (except the groundhog) and members of the rabbit or hare families are rarely infected with rabies.’
    • ‘English landowners introduced the European rabbit to the continent in 1859, seeking game animals for sport hunting.’
    • ‘They mostly eat rodents, eastern cottontail rabbits, insects, and fruit.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, disappearing rabbits can signal declining health of grassland and sagebrush ecosystems.’
    • ‘Indeed, meat and pelts are a resource, but rabbits also destroy crops.’
    • ‘The next day she found the white rabbit still had no food or water.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Deer, hares, rabbits, mice, rats, pigeons, crows and many insects have to be ‘controlled’ in order for these crops to thrive.’
    • ‘The rabbit was sitting up on its hind legs, still staring at her.’
    • ‘Foxes, rabbits, harvest mice, house mice, dormice, shrews, weasels, and voles all depend on the hedgerows as a place to breed, hunt or shelter.’
    • ‘After all, to a shooting man the only good rabbit is a dead rabbit.’
    • ‘Appearances were put in by eastern chipmunks, gray squirrels, a rabbit and our new resident woodchuck.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 The flesh of the rabbit as food.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Add the chicken and rabbit and cook until golden brown, about five minutes.’
      • ‘My recipe for today is an old Australian country recipe for rabbit pie.’
      • ‘My other food friend was excited by the presence of rabbit on the menu.’
      • ‘Fuller Pinot styles go well with poached or grilled salmon, foie gras, charcuterie, rabbit, hare, boar and ham.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘From every kitchen in the village arose the most delicious aromas: apple pies, rabbit and chicken pies, fairy cakes, pancakes.’
      • ‘The rabbit ballotine was so plain as to be almost unpleasant.’
      • ‘I sampled a tender saddle of rabbit, wrapped in fatty Portuguese bacon and doused in a bubbly mustard emulsion.’
      • ‘Exotic meats such as rabbit, venison and wild boar are available, in addition to countless varieties of sausages.’
      • ‘Hot Cross Bunny turns out to be a recipe for curried rabbit that includes a shot of fiery Thai red curry paste.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My main course - confit of wild rabbit with Savoy cabbage and bacon with garlic and parsley mash - looked delectable.’
      • ‘This weekend's patrons can expect to be served shrimp bisque or rabbit pie with bay-leaf juice.’
      • ‘The game selection in my dish included venison, rabbit and pigeon.’
      • ‘Sturdier ones, such as lavender, can be stuffed into chicken or rabbit before roasting, and then discarded later.’
      • ‘Cretan cuisine centres mainly on chicken, pork, lamb, rabbit or fish, served in a variety of non-spicy sauces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If local meat eaters all got hooked on home-grown rabbit, imagine the effect on our food import bill.’
    2. 1.2 The fur of the rabbit.
      • ‘Typical usage is a simple trim on a hood or wrap scarf and the fur might just as easily be rabbit as mink.’
      • ‘There were platform shoes, rabbit coats, sausage curls and blue eye shadow - and the women weren't a pretty sight either.’
    3. 1.3North American
      another term for hare
    4. 1.4US A runner who acts as pacesetter in the first laps of a race.


  • 1usually as noun rabbitingHunt rabbits.

    ‘locate the area where you can go rabbiting’
    • ‘It does, however, need plenty of exercise and will enjoy a days rabbiting, should the opportunity arise.’
    • ‘I wanted to go out rabbiting with Oscar, but you've been gone ages and now he's gone to sleep.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hunting with dogs would ban a number of less well-known bloodsports, like hare coursing, mink hunting, rabbiting with terriers.’
  • 2British informal Talk at length, especially about trivial matters.

    ‘stop rabbiting on, will you, and go to bed!’
    • ‘He answered the shop phone and an executive-type started rabbiting on about buying a laptop computer.’
    • ‘She was in the kitchen when I arrived, simultaneously rabbiting into a mobile phone while watching a soap opera on television.’
    • ‘As she made her grateful escape, Mum is rabbiting on, ‘I hope she's got a good deodorant on a day like this.’’
    • ‘I'm starting to rabbit on now, so I'll stop there.’
    • ‘The rest were rabbiting on about share prices, company takeovers, fashion accessories, holiday destinations or some such guff.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is nothing in Part 1 about pensions, schools, holidays, or whatever he was rabbiting on about.’
    • ‘Given half a chance, she's rabbiting passionately about cultural strategies, architectural policies and the thorny problem of getting teenage girls into sport.’
    • ‘While he was rabbiting on about how we would jump off the cliffs at Barnageeragh, I slipped quietly away.’
    talk, gossip, chatter, chitter-chatter, speak, converse, have a conversation, engage in conversation, tittle-tattle, prattle, jabber, jibber-jabber, babble, prate, go on, run on
    View synonyms
  • 3informal Move quickly; run away.

    ‘he rabbited as soon as he saw us coming’
    • ‘Frank, why did you rabbit?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Carlos wants to know why they rabbited and did someone tip them off.’
    • ‘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.’


  • breed like rabbits

    • informal Reproduce prolifically.

      • ‘The only thing that keeps the system going is the ability of the prey to - for lack of a better analogy - breed like rabbits.’
      • ‘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’ .’
      • ‘He is trying to prevent bunnies breeding like rabbits.’
      • ‘Yes, you would get the impression that conditions in the United States would lead to people 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.’
      • ‘‘They're far less messy to keep than pigs,’ he explained, ‘live happily on seaweed, and best of all, breed like rabbits.’’
      • ‘The problem is, the things breed like rabbits, if we can mix our mammalian metaphors.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Kind of like pulling a rabbit out of the hat, only with the Supreme Court.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the President magically placed battlefield responsibility in the hands of the battle commanders.’
      • ‘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.’


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