“Those Chinese f-ckers are trying to rat-f-ck! us,” declared Kevin Rudd …
In this mood, he’d been talking about countries “rat-f-cking” each other for days. Was a deal still possible, asked one of the Australians.
“Depends whether those rat-f-cking Chinese want to f-ck us.”
So far as I can recall I have never heard rat-f-ck or rat-f-cking before and I immediately assumed that K.Rudd had thought it up on the spot — a surreal obscenity from a tired and frustrated leader who’d staked his reputation on climate action and a new relationship with China.
But dictionaries have more to say on the dubious practice of rat-f-cking. The OED locates the first printed use of rat-f-ck in 1920s America, and it has been spotted in published US sources right up until the present decade. The F Word, a 1995 reference work on “the most controversial word in the English language”, has even more examples. My agents behind the apple-pie curtain have observed its continued use in spoken American English. So what exactly does it mean?
References indicate that rat-f-ck as a verb has a whole range of applications. It can mean “to outwit”, “to rummage through with the intent to steal” and “to harm or victimise”; but it seems that the most commonly applied meaning is “to botch”.
And rat-f-ck as a noun can refer variously to a “a contemptible or despicable person”, a “bungled or disorganised operation or undertaking”, “an unimportant task or mission” or “a crowded, chaotic event, esp. one intended to garner media attention”.