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While watching episode 3 of season 2 of "Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father" I came across the the following sentences, all by the same native (British) English speaker (aged 78 at the time of this writing):

Would you tell her, I'm trying to find him a wife? [...] I'm looking for an attractive young woman. And also, ideally, somebody who goes like a rattlesnake.

That question has apparently been asked over here before prior to the release of season 2 of the show, but the answers there are all just guesses. I'm thinking perhaps with the wider audience at StackExchange I can get an authoritative answer here with additional examples of its use and meaning.

My first guess from the context was also that this carried some kind of sexual connotation, perhaps, but oftentimes as non-native speakers idioms are lost on us.

  • Always remember that we are all lost by some idioms in our own language, because we all habitually use some words and phrases that we actually do not understand – Trevor Christopher Butcher Oct 24 '18 at 13:47
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    I recognise the phrase "goes like a..." as describing someone's (usually a young woman's) sexual appetite and style. It's certainly coarse and seems to be used by Whitehall Snr to shock slightly with deliberate comic effect. Having said that I don't really understand the rattlesnake bit unless it's a simile to do with writhing, particularly thinking of a sidewinder. I'm only a few years younger than Michael Whitehall but I can't say that I recognise the phrase as any sort of standard. My guess is that he made it up. – BoldBen Oct 24 '18 at 15:52
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The intended expression here is probably:

shag like a rattlesnake:

To copulate energically.
Sex-Lexis.com

The corresponding expression used outside BrE is "fucks like a rattlesnake", although I was able to find another example which tones down the language:

Ya wanna go to Meeka, Doug? Plenty of yorgas up there, mate. Meekatharra womans rock like a rattlesnake, unna, Floyd?
Day of Dog

(The above is a 1981 quote found in the OED. The speaker is likely Australian aboriginal.)

See also the definition in A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.

  • Nicely found! I am impressed. – Dan Bron Oct 24 '18 at 17:35
  • Also, bang like a rattlesnake: books.google.it/… – user067531 Oct 24 '18 at 18:16
  • Glad I asked the question here. Thanks for the answer and the contained references. – 0xC0000022L Oct 24 '18 at 21:11

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