‘I Don’t Give a Rat’s Ass’

Where exactly did this phrase come from, I wonder? How did someone wake up one day and think “Instead of saying ‘I don’t care,’ I’m going to use a rodent’s rectum to explain how little I care about something”?

And mind you, this is incredibly particular. This is a specific body part on a specific animal. How did this come about?

I did some research about this, and the Oxford English Dictionary apparently says the saying’s origins are found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Only problem? Twain wrote the phrase “don’t give a dead rat,” and it’s not clear how being undeterred by a dead rat turned into the same feeling for a rat’s posterior, whether it be dead or alive.

I’d like to think there was a veteranarian who examined a rat for a prostate or something one day, and said, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to not have my hand up there for this procedure” and then it just took off or something.

I’m more a fan of “I don’t give a rat’s rectum,” depending on the context, because I just love alliterations that much.

I am clearly running out of ideas for things to write about.


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