rab·​ble | \ ˈra-bəl How to pronounce rabble (audio) \

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 How to pronounce rabble (audio) \

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

Noun the crown prince was reminded that even the rabble of the realm deserved his attention and compassion
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Before long, the Tea Party was singularly opposed to Obama, with many gatherings featuring Sheriff Arpaio’s rabble-rousing speeches. Jon Gabriel, Washington Examiner, "Raising hell in Arizona," 4 Feb. 2021 But the rabble-rousing spirit of that stealth semester is still alive and still kicking the status quo. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: SDSU’s Department of Women’s Studies celebrates 50 years of revolution," 5 Dec. 2020 Tilek Toktogaziyev, a youthful entrepreneur, and Sadyr Japarov, a rabble-rousing nationalist ex-MP released by the protesters from jail, where he had been sent for kidnapping an official during a previous bout of political turmoil. The Economist, "Angry Kyrgyz rebel against a tainted election—for the third time," 7 Oct. 2020 Marvel fans who enjoy the franchise’s violence and cronyism are encouraged by this adolescent rabble-rousing to accept election irregularities and ballot-harvesting and further encouraged toward irrational anarchic retaliation. Armond White, National Review, "America Assembled Epitomizes Hollywood Political Junk," 11 Nov. 2020 Most of the students involved, even the cynical politicos and the high-spirited rabble-rousers, seem pleasant and engaged. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What Happens When You Let 1,000 Teenage Boys Run a Government," 16 Aug. 2020 Many journalistic organizations are inclined to be deferential to the police, while being less respectful of the rabble—a reflection of the power dynamic at work in these situations. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Rethinking the Press’s Relationship with Police," 5 June 2020 Even in 1968 and the divisive 1970 congressional elections that followed, voters were not easily gulled by Republican rabble-rousing. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Flawed Politics of a Law-and-Order Campaign," 31 May 2020 More The Electoral College was conceived by the framers to ensure that the president was selected by an elite and dispassionate assembly of leaders rather than a popular rabble. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Look at Electoral College Rules," 17 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for rabble

Last Updated

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabble. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for rabble



English Language Learners Definition of rabble

: a large group of loud people who could become violent
: ordinary or common people who do not have a lot of money, power, or social status


rab·​ble | \ ˈra-bəl How to pronounce rabble (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on rabble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rabble

Nglish: Translation of rabble for Spanish Speakers

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