Idiom:  smell a rat

idiom smell a rat


Idiom:  smell a rat

  • To have a feeling that something is wrong or that someone is not being honest.


When you smell a rat, it's like when you have a particular feeling that something isn't right, but you can't explain why. People often use this expression when they suspect that someone is being dishonest or trying to deceive them.

The expression is frequently used in English and can be used in a variety of contexts, such as in business, politics, or personal relationships, when you have a suspicion that something is not as it should be.

It can also be used to describe the feeling of unease that arises when you sense that something is not quite right.

Example sentences

— I’ve got five kids so I smell a rat whenever it gets really quiet at my house.

— The media smelled a rat when the politician refused to answer questions about his connections to a controversial lobbying group.

— I smelled a rat when my husband said his secretary was just calling to say hello.

— When my date said he forgot his wallet as the waiter brought out the bill, I smelled a rat.

— I smelled a rat when my coworker suddenly stopped inviting me to important meetings, but didn't give a clear reason why.

— We smelled a rat after our receptionist called in sick ten times in a month. Finally, she confided to the HR Director that she's having a difficult pregnancy.

— I smell a rat. My roommate claims he lost his job two months ago and can't pay rent but I overheard his mom ask if she should write a check out to our landlord and he told her to just make the check payable to him.

— We smelled a rat when our landlord suddenly raised our rent by an unreasonable amount, but couldn't provide a good explanation for the increase.

— When the company's profits suddenly doubled without any clear explanation, many stakeholders smelled a rat and suspected that the company was cooking the books.

— Look, you smell a rat almost every month when it comes to your boyfriend. If you just don't trust him then you need to end the relationship so you can have peace of mind.

— I smelled a rat when my online purchase never arrived, but the seller kept making excuses and never provided a tracking number. Luckily, I was able to dispute the charge on my credit card. We'll see what happens but I recommend you don't buy anything from them.

— When the primary political opponent suddenly dropped out of the race without any explanation, many people smelled a rat and suspected foul play.

— The board of directors smelled a rat when the CFO refused to provide detailed financial reports and seemed to be stalling the audit.

— You say your girlfriend has started getting secretive about her phone and won't let you see who is texting her? Dude, I smell a rat.

— I smelled a rat when my friend told me he was a vegetarian, but then I saw him eating a hamburger in the park. I have no idea what is going on.

— I smelled a rat when our dog kept going into my grandmother's room every evening. Yesterday, I discovered she has been saving some of her dinner for him, which is cute but not good for him.


  • have a gut feeling (something is wrong)
  • can't quite put your finger on it
  • (something) doesn't add up
  • Something fishy is going on
  • (have a feeling that) the other shoe is going to drop
  • (smell) a hint of impropriety
  • (have a suspicion that) something is not right
  • (a situation) stinks to high heaven
  • (have a sense that) someone is up to no good
  • (feel like) there's a snake in the grass
  • (something) doesn't pass the smell test
  • (have a hunch that) there's more to something than meets the eye

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