Back in the college days of yore I encountered a mighty strange phenomenon.  In the student center there was a dining area for all the students on the generic meal plan (which at the time was called SAGA, or as it was nicknamed in fun, Soviet Attempt to Gag America; ironic since it was a liberal arts college).

Basically, you’d be sitting there eating your meal (usually dinner) and someone would say, “Rat-hump.” Someone else would say a little louder, “RAT-HUMP.” Then the real contest would begin: There would be a rush to see who could say “RATT-HUUMP!” the loudest without being embarrassed.

These things happen.

Just the other day on the FaceCrook channel my colleagues in college were doing the still-alive-but-past-life analysis in order to revisit this strange irrational gift from the beyond.  Alas, like all mysteries we could not find a suitable answer.

Where did it come from? Who brought it into being? The seed of this break in so-called well-behaved discourse must have come from somewhere reasonable and rational, right?  Right?!

I talked to the “cool” people of that time period, and they refused to say.  Maybe they know too much! In any case I got nothing on that angle.

I spoke with the folks from the period before where it might have manifested. They knew nothing.

The rational minds of the crew came up with some interesting (NSFW) origins of the word, but not quite the practice:

  • This blog provides general analysis.
  • Google Books references placing clues in 1922.
  • Democratic Underground digs up the popular culture graveyard.

My initial rant went as thus in the discussion:


Rat-hump is used in an escalating declarative sense to achieve a conscious recognition.

  • Step 1: “There is a rat-hump, hello!”
  • Step 2: “No, there’s a rat-hump, HELLO!”
  • Step 3: +1 until consciousness raising achieved.

At which point someone recognizes that yes, there is a rat-hump and someone’s face is red. In other words ritual re-enactment of “shock the monkey”, in which we all participate in the recognition of “crap thru a goose” life.

So the definition is rat-hump as a state of mind in which one realizes one is rat-humped, or someone you know is rat-humped.  QED: we are alive and life is rat-hump, Gloria Et Domine or Kyrie depending on where you stand on the rat-hump wheel at that particular moment


Spontaneous affirmation of life through a subversive exclamation of experience? Such things are among us now, refusing to allow our mere reason or tyrannical infant-services to repress them.