Definition of the rat race noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the rat race

 noun
noun
BrE
 
; NAmE
 
[singular](disapproving)
 
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the way of life of people living and working in a large city where people compete in an aggressive way with each other in order to be more successful, earn more money, etc. It’s very easy to get caught up in the rat race. The novel is about a couple who get out of the rat race and buy a farm in France. CollocationsTown and countryTown live in a city/​a town/​an urban environment/(informal) a concrete jungle/​the suburbs/​shanty towns/​slums live (especially North American English) downtown/​in the downtown area/(British English) in the city centre enjoy/​like the hectic pace of life/​the hustle and bustle of city life cope with the stress/​pressure of urban life get caught up in the rat race prefer/​seek the anonymity of life in a big city be drawn by/​resist the lure of the big city head for the bright lights (of the big city/​New York) enjoy/​love the vibrant/​lively nightlife have/​be close to all the amenities be surrounded by towering skyscrapers/​a soulless urban sprawl use/​travel by/​rely on (British English) public transport/(North American English) public transportation put up with/​get stuck in/​sit in massive/​huge/​heavy/​endless/​constant traffic jams tackle/​ease/​reduce/​relieve/​alleviate the heavy/​severe traffic congestion be affected/​choked/​damaged by pollutionCountry live in a village/​the countryside/​an isolated area/​a rural backwater/(informal) the sticks enjoy/​like the relaxed/​slower pace of life enjoy/​love/​explore the great outdoors look for/​find/​get/​enjoy a little peace and quiet need/​want to get back/​closer to nature be surrounded by open/​unspoilt/​picturesque countryside escape/​quit/​get out of/​leave the rat race seek/​achieve a better/​healthy work-life balance downshift to a less stressful life seek/​start a new life in the country (British English, informal) up sticks/ (North American English, informal ) pull up stakes and move to/​head for… create/​build/​foster a strong sense of community depend on/​be employed in/​work in agriculture live off/​farm/​work the land tackle/​address the problem of rural unemployment
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: the rat race