Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice:
A species of land turtle with a mouth like a shark and a smooth green body; walked on its knees.
A species of land turtle. Head erect, mouth like a shark, the front fore legs curbed out so that the animal walked on its knees; smooth green body; lived on swallows and oysters.
Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.:
Irish Antiq. An enclosure (usually of a circular form) made by a strong earthen wall, and serving as a fort and place of residence for the chief of a tribe; a hill-fort. (Often incorrectly ascribed to the Danes.) 1596 SPENSER State Irel. Wks. (Globe) 642/2 There is a great use amongest the Irish to make greate assemblyes togither upon a rath or hill. Ibid., They are called Dane~rathes, that is, hills of the Danes. 1617 MORYSON Itin. II. II. ii. 161 A ground of aduantage, being a strong Rath, between the towne and the Camp. 1700 E. LHWYD in Phil. Trans. XXVII. 525 Their round Entrenchments, commonly called Danes Rathes. 1807 SIR R. C. HOARE Tour Irel. 21 One of those raised earthen works, which the Irish writers call raths. 1845 E. WARBURTON Crescent & Cross II. 361 With the tombs of Hector and Achilles appearing like Irish raths. 1880 MCCARTHY Own Times IV. lvii. 231 The ‘good people’ still linger around the raths and glens.
A factitious word introduced by ‘Lewis Carroll’ (see quot. 18552). Quot. 18551 also occurs in the first verse of ‘Jabberwocky’ in Through the Looking-Glass (1871) i. 21. 1855 ‘L. CARROLL’ Rectory Umbrella & Mischmasch (1932) 139 All mimsy were the borogoves; And the mome raths outgrabe. Ibid. 140 Rath, a species of land turtle. Head erect: mouth like a shark: the fore legs curved out so that the animal walked on its knees: smooth green body: lived on swallows and oysters.
obs. form of RAITH; variant of RATHE.« Back to Glossary Index