rab·​ble | \ˈra-bəl \

Definition of rabble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a disorganized or confused collection of things

2a : a disorganized or disorderly crowd of people : mob

b : the lowest class of people


rabbled; rabbling\ ˈra-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of rabble (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to insult or assault by or as a mob

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Did You Know?


Rabble has been with the English language since its appearance in Middle English (as "rabel") in the late 1300s. It may have come from the Middle English verb "rabel" which meant "to babble." (Despite the similarity in sound and meaning, however, "babble" and "rabble" are unrelated.) The verb "rabel" is related to Middle Dutch "rabbelen" and Low German rabbeln, meaning "to chatter." So how do we get from babbling to crowds of people? The connection may be the idea of confusion. "Rabble," in its earliest uses could not only indicate a pack of animals, swarm of insects, or a confused collection of things, but could also indicate a confused or meaningless string of words.

Examples of rabble in a Sentence


the crown prince was reminded that even the rabble of the realm deserved his attention and compassion

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the 17th and 18th centuries, giants were strongly associated with members of the noble class, who could gaze straight at them from their balconies while the common rabble massed in the streets below. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "For Hundreds of Years, Papier-Mâché Has Lent a Surreal Face to Catalan Culture," 3 July 2018 The Belgian authorities imprisoned Patrice Lumumba as a rabble-rouser. New York Times, "Belgium Honors Congolese Leader It Helped Overthrow," 30 June 2018 Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and my employment by the conservative rabble-rousers of Fox News—and, more recently, with the coming of the Age of Trump—my professional life has been even more difficult to define. Fox News, "'The Geraldo Show' by Geraldo Rivera," 29 Mar. 2018 Unrealized promise is just one pitfall of marching on Washington, an American tradition that dates back to the depression year of 1894, when an Ohio rabble-rouser named Jacob Coxey led an army of unemployed men on the capital. Rick Hampson, USA TODAY, "Can March For Our Lives rally avoid the fate of the Millions Mom March?," 22 Mar. 2018 Government officials, almost all Muslim, have struggled to curb religious rabble-rousing without being seen as insufficiently devout. Pamela Constable, Washington Post, "Christians come under threat in Pakistan: ‘No one accused of blasphemy is ever safe’," 16 Mar. 2018 But Sanders is a proud rabble-rouser, and that could be simpatico with the African-American power broker. Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, "Can Bernie Sanders Beat Hillary Clinton?," 8 Apr. 2015 Matteo Salvini: Even worse for Mattarella, the anti-immigration rabble-rouser was the biggest winner. Ross Larsen, Bloomberg.com, "Now What? These Three People Must Fix the Mess in Italian Politics," 5 Mar. 2018 The mosquito emoji will join the rabble of emoji wildlife including butterflies, bees, whales and rabbits. Smithsonian, "Will a New Mosquito Emoji Create Some Buzz About Insect-borne Diseases?," 28 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rabble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rabble


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1644, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rabble


Middle English rabel pack of animals

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Time Traveler for rabble

The first known use of rabble was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for rabble



English Language Learners Definition of rabble

: a large group of loud people who could become violent

the rabble : ordinary or common people who do not have a lot of money, power, or social status


rab·​ble | \ˈra-bəl \

Kids Definition of rabble

1 : a crowd that is noisy and hard to control : mob

2 : a group of people looked down upon as ignorant and hard to handle

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Comments on rabble

What made you want to look up rabble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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