I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Gloria Scott by Arthur Conan Doyle: "Now, you don't think it likely that a man who could do anything is going to wear his breeches out sitting in the stinking hold of a rat-gutted, beetle-ridden, mouldy old coffin of a China coaster?", end of quote. I found an definition of 'wear the breeches' in the free dictionary but it doesn't fit the context. As for 'rat-gutted' I couldn't find anything.

  • You have to look up wear out to understand what a lot of sitting will do to the seat of your pants. Jan 18 '21 at 15:16
  • The descriptor rat-gutted is probably not closely connected with 'rat gut' in the modern slang usage. I'd say it's a more visceral variant of rat infested. // A man of action is not going to take things lying down (or sitting down). Jan 18 '21 at 15:28
  • 1
    A "China coaster" is a cargo ship, and the hold of such a ship is (or was) sometimes referred to as its "bowels" or "guts." To be "rat-gutted" would then simply be to have rats in its guts—that is, in its hold.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 18 '21 at 23:05

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