ratel, noun

Forms:
Also rattel, rattle, and with initial capital.
Origin:
South African Dutch, Dutch, Show more South African Dutch, etymology dubious; probably related to Dutch raat honeycomb; but perhaps adaptation of Dutch ratel rattle (see quotation 1835).
1. The mammal Mellivora capensis of the Mustelidae; honey-badger; honey-ratel.
Note:
In Skinner & Smithers’s Mammals of Sn Afr. Subregion (1990), the name ‘honey badger’ is used for this species.
[1731 G. Medley tr. of P. Kolben’s Present State of Cape of G.H. II. 124There is a Creature, pretty often seen in the Cape-Colonies; and which the People there call a Rattle-Mouse, tho’ it has Little or Nothing of the Likeness of any Kind of Mouse seen in Europe.]
[1777 (tr. of A. Sparrman) in Phil. Trans. of Royal Soc. LXVII. 43Not only the Dutch and Hottentots, but likewise a species of quadruped, which the Dutch name a Ratel, are frequently conducted to wild bee-hives by this bird. [Note] Probably a new species of badger.]
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. II. 180The ratel, a sort of weasel or badger, by nature destined to be the adversary of the bees, and the unwelcome visitor of their habitations, is likewise endued with a particular faculty for discovering and attacking them within their entrenchments.
1806 J. Barrow Trav. I. 293Here..is abundance of that species of viverra called the Ratel.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 51When the bird has eaten the honey, the young bees are carefully closed up with stones to prevent the ratel from taking them out.
1835 J.W.D. Moodie Ten Yrs in S. Afr. II. 190From its size, peculiar rattling cry, and general appearance, I at first thought it was a ‘ratel’ which is now well known to naturalists.
1862 C. Rossetti Goblin M. (1884) 13Cat-like and rat-like, Ratel- and wombat-like.
1875 J.J. Bisset Sport & War 166There is..a small animal in South Africa, known there as the Rattle, a description of badger, which displays great intelligence in searching after wild honey.
1876 F. Boyle Savage Life 12For the sportsman, there were..rattels.
1905 W.L. Sclater in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr. 127The Ratel (Mellivora ratel), renowed for its love of bees and honey though seldom seen, as it is strictly nocturnal, causes much annoyance to the Colonial apiarist, throwing over the hives and destroying the combs in its efforts to obtain its favourite food.
1911 D.B. Hook ’Tis but Yesterday 56The ratel cares nothing for stings. Its hide is so loose that it is supposed to be able to turn round in its skin.
1947 J. Stevenson-Hamilton Wild Life in S. Afr. 242The ratel does not hesitate to attack the most venomous species of snakes.
1951 L.G. Green Grow Lovely 146A ratel is a vicious opponent, often more than a match for a pack of dogs.
1961 L. Van der Post Heart of Hunter 73He gave me such a vivid picture of the ratel eating snakes that I saw it gobbling up tangles of serpents like spaghetti.
1975 H.B. Cott Looking at Animals 73Ratels are said to trot unhurriedly with a long, swinging stride.
1980 D. Pitcher Calabash Child 60Ratel loves honey dearly. He is greedy for honey and his thick fur protects him from the stings of bees.
1987 M. Holmes in Optima Vol.35 No.4, 196The ferocious ratel or honey-badger,..is a musteline: cornered, it will emit a foul-smelling substance from the perineal gland.
1994 M. Roberts tr. of J.A. Wahlberg’s Trav. Jrnls 1838–56 42The dogs find a Ratel; a terrific fight. After a quarter of an hour the Ratel was still perfectly fresh.
2. transferred sense. Military. Usually with initial capital. [Probably alluding to the tough nature of the vehicle (related to the Afrikaans idiom so taai soos 'n ratel as tough as a honey-badger).] A six-wheeled armoured personnel-carrier and infantry combat-vehicle. Also attributive. See also buffel sense 2.
1977 B. Marks Our S. Afr. Army 32The Ratel, This..is probably the most respected vehicle in the whole defence force...There is virtually no terrain through which it cannot travel. Even water up to the depth of 1.2 metres...It has an incredible range of up to a thousand kilometres and can support its crew for two days.
1988 D. Ricci in Frontline Apr. 6Fear-stricken English and Afrikaans voters have prostrated themselves before the chimaera of Ratel-based Nat ‘security’ instead of supporting the true security of open negotiations and rule of law.
1988 Knockespotch in Frontline Apr. 21Oh send me I pray thee thy ratels and troops. Restore me to grace with thy military swoops.
1990 Knockespotch in Frontline Dec. 10In vain did churchmen plead for peace, And diehards call for more police, The fighting simply wouldn’t cease: He had to send in Ratels.
The mammal Mellivora capensis of the Mustelidae; honey-badger; honey-ratel.
A six-wheeled armoured personnel-carrier and infantry combat-vehicle. Also attributive.

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17311994