Why do they call snitches rats?
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There are a lot of different nicknames for informants, but “snitch” and “rat” are perhaps the two most common. It’s no surprise that these terms are used so frequently, as they perfectly capture the feelings of betrayal and disgust that many people have towards those who inform on others. But where do these terms come from, and why are they so popular?
In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the origins of these terms, and exploring the reasons why they’re still in use today. We’ll also be looking at some of the other nicknames for informants, and seeing how they compare. So, if you’ve ever wondered why people call snitches rats, read on to find out more.
The term “snitch” is derived from the Old English word snicend, meaning “to cut off.” In the 1300s, “snitching” referred to the physical act of cutting off a rat’s tail. Centuries later, the term was used to describe informers or spies. The word “rat” first appeared in English in the late 1500s. It is thought to be derived from the Middle English word ratten, which meant “to claw or scratch.”
Informants, or snitches, have been given a bad rap. They are often vilified as “rats” by both the media and the general public. But why? What is it about informing on someone that is so reviled?