Ratty-looking

danieleferrari

Senior Member
Italiano
Good evening everyone,

What does "ratty-looking" mean in the following contexts from "The Valley of Lost Secrets" by Lesley Parr? Does the character (Jack) look like a rat or scruffy and shabby only? Had already been defined as "skinny" and "short". Thank you.

I see a group of boys coming down. [...] There are three of them, a scrawny, ratty-looking one with hair like straw [...] Jack’s across the hall, his plate piled so high I can just about see his ratty face over the top of it all.
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    This is from the Collins Dictionary; it is the dictionary that I find is most useful for language learners.

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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    From about the 1980s onwards, in the "youth" subculture common among the poorer parts of the UK, there was a type of character - usually a young man, under 25 years old, thin, wiry, with sharp features who was described as a "rat-boy". These characters were usually minor criminals of low intelligence, stupid behaviour, and a propensity towards theft, drugs and burglary. To me, that is what "ratty-looking" conjures up.

    See #6 and #7
     
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    danieleferrari

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    I see, thank you. The historical novel is set in Wales during the Second World War. It mainly portrays the evacuation to Wales of many children who lived in London. Jack does pilfer in the novel.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I think "rat-like" is understood by most people as being like a filthy rodent. (With my apologies to white laboratory rats.)


    I don't think it was by accident that Dustin Hoffman's character in Midnight Cowboy was named "Ratzo Rizzo".

    1969-midnight-cowboy-07.jpg



    And the 1986 movie, Ratboy, was about a boy who lived in a garbage dump.

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    Ratboy (1986) - IMDb
     

    danieleferrari

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    I think "rat-like" is understood by most people as being like a filthy rodent. (With my apologies to white laboratory rats.)


    I don't think it was by accident that Dustin Hoffman's character in Midnight Cowboy was named "Ratzo Rizzo".

    1969-midnight-cowboy-07.jpg



    And the 1986 movie, Ratboy, was about a boy who lived in a garbage dump.

    View attachment 64655
    Ratboy (1986) - IMDb
    By the way, as far as I can tell (haven't seen the film, my bad), in the Italian translation of it, the character's name is "Enrico Rico Rizzo", nicknamed "Sozzo" (alluding to the idea of being "scruffy", but not rodent-looking).
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    By the way, as far as I can tell (haven't seen the film, my bad), in the Italian translation of it, the character's name is "Enrico Rico Rizzo", nicknamed "Sozzo" (alluding to the idea of being "scruffy", but not rodent-looking).
    A good film. X-rated at that time. Now it would be a soft R-rated movie. Worth watching.
     
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