- 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.
- 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]