Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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RATT, n. Also rat; rot. A file of soldiers, a company; in hist. phr. the Town Rat(t)s, the name given to the soldiers of the City Guard in Edinburgh (Edb. 1808 Jam.). See also s.v. Ratton. Sc. 1821  Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 306:
The Lord Provost presided, a band of music attended and the worthy town-rots (soldiers of the City-Guard) attended outside the door, and at every toast fired a volley.
Edb. 1825  R. Chambers Traditions II. 151:
The Town Rats, who might peep forth like old cautious snails, on hearing his drum, would draw in their horns with a Gaelic execration, and shut their door as he approached.
Sc. 1859  J. Maidment Sc. Ballads 220:
A party of the City Guard, commonly called the Town Rats, accompanied the Magistrates when they went to proclaim the Fair.

[O.Sc. rate, 1640, ratt, 1646, id., a variant of rot, 1637, prob. ad. (range). Du. rot, from O.Fr. rot(t)e, route, a band or troop, Eng. rout. No doubt the word was later thought of as an opprobrious use of rat, the animal.]

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"Ratt n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Dec 2017 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/ratt>

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