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  • This word is usually associated with Winston Churchill's defection back to the Conservative Party in 1925, and his famous comment . . . I can't find an authoritative written source for it, but the most favoured form across the Web is 'Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.'

    He might well have been conscious of his father Lord Randolph Churchill's comment on an earlier prime minister, Lord Derby: 'A man may rat once, but not rat and re-rat.'

    However, the OED has an even earlier use: Mary Frampton (1773-1846) writes about Talleyrand in her journal (published 1885): if he has 'refused to re-rat'.

    August 14, 2008