rat race


rat race

noun Informal.

  1. any exhausting, unremitting, and usually competitive activity or routine, especially a pressured urban working life spent trying to get ahead with little time left for leisure, contemplation, etc.

noun

  1. a continual routine of hectic competitive activityworking in the City is a real rat race

Fierce competition to maintain or improve one’s position in the workplace or social life. For example, You may not realize what a rat race it is to get research grants. This term presumably alludes to the rat’s desperate struggle for survival. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]

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