go down the rathole


Senior Member

I found this headline:

"Russia’s Military Dollars go down the Rathole"

What does "go down the rathole" mean?

Thank you very much!
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The metaphor comes from old farmhouses and settlers' cabins with wooden floors. Inevitably, holes would appear as knots dropped out of the surrounding wood. The holes were called "rat holes" because rodents used them for coming and going .....

    Thus, "pounding money down a rat hole" became a phrase meaning that it was money wasted.


    Senior Member
    You can also say "go down the drain", since that's the general idea (a depository of waste).


    Senior Member
    US, English
    This may be a regional phrase, too. In my area, you would be far more likely to hear someone 'is throwing money away' or 'the money's going down the drain', or even that someone 'is pissing money away'.
    The only phrase I regularly hear related to rathole is 'that place is a rathole', meaning it's a mess, or it's nasty.

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    I've never heard 'going down the rathole' in BE, maybe because we don't have many settlers' cabins with wooden floors. I have heard down the drain, or down the plughole, in this context.