Simple Definition of raffish
: not completely acceptable or respectable but interesting and attractive
Full Definition of raffish
1 : marked by or suggestive of flashy vulgarity or crudeness
2 : marked by a careless unconventionality : rakish
Examples of raffish in a sentence
<the dowager cringed at the thought of raffish tourists in rough boots tromping all over her Persian rugs>
Did You Know?
Raffish sounds like it should mean "resembling raff." But what is raff? Originally, "raff" was a word meaning "rubbish"; it derived from Middle English "raf," and it was being used for trash and refuse back in the 1400s. Around a century later, English speakers were also using the word riffraff to mean "disreputable characters" or "rabble." The origins of "riffraff" are distinct from the "rubbish" sense of "raff"; "riffraff" derived from an Anglo-French phrase meaning "one and all." By the mid-1500s, the similarities between "raff" and "riffraff" had prompted people to start using the two words as synonyms, and "raff" gained a "rabble" sense. It was that ragtag "raff" that gave rise to the adjective "raffish" in the late 1700s.
First Known Use of raffish
Seen and Heard
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