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Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does escape the rat race mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

escape the rat race


The phrase 'escape the rat race' is an idiomatic expression that means 'leave a job or way of life in which people compete endlessly and aggressively with each other to be successful'.

This idiom collocates with other verbs like:

- get out of the rat race.
- quit the rat race.
- be caught in the rat race.

The origin of the idiom

According to Wikipedia, one of the first uses of the phrase dates back to 1934 when it was used in reference to aviation training. In that context, a rat race originally referred to the way trainee fighter pilots had to copy all the actions performed by an expert pilot. Later, the phrase has gained the meaning of 'competitive struggle'.

The expression is often used to refer to excessive or competitive work. Generally speaking, if one is trapped in a style of life in which one works excessively to earn a living, then they are said to be caught in a meaningless rat race. Very much like rats in a laboratory where scientists controlling rats in mazes, individuals who are entangled in a rat race are controlled by outside forces, the pressures of contemporary business and society. This phrase implies that many people view work as an interminable purposeless race: a cyclical commute between home and work, akin to a rat running in circles or in a hamster wheel.


She was exhausted by her lifestyle. She seriously thought of getting out of the rat race and taking control of her life again.

It's so interesting to hear people's own stories about how they escaped the rat race.

I have escaped the rat race and I am enjoying my financial freedom.

All my friends have something in common; they have all escaped the rat race.

This idiom is in the animals category

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