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rab·​ble ˈra-bəl How to pronounce rabble (audio)
plural rabbles
: a disorganized or disorderly crowd of people : mob
Maybe the film's best stretch comes when the boys … race through the streets while singing "Born to Run," and inspire a rabble of unemployed factory men to join along.David Ehrlich
Nobody wants political parties that behave like unruly rabbles.Chris Bryant
: a group, class, or body regarded with contempt
… the whole of that vile rabble came sweeping off the hilltop and down the slope right past their hiding-place.C. S. Lewis
: ordinary or common people lacking wealth, power, or social status
usually used with the
In the vaudeville theaters the "refined" could, if they chose, sit safe from the rabble [=the masses] in the more expensive box and orchestra seats.David Nasaw
Plagued by overflowing prisons and an irrepressible wave of crime, George III hit upon a cruel solution: ship the rabble off to the far ends of the earth …James Atlas
In Elizabethan England, there were sumptuary laws to prevent members of the rabble from dressing above their station.Rob Walker
: a disorganized or confused collection of things
The size of the Academy's official dictionary … showed its determination to eradicate the rabble of synonyms, onomatopoeias and vulgarities.Graham Robb
The punch was as hard as any Ali ever took. When he rose, his thoughts were a rabble and his legs looked ready to do a Groucho Marx impersonation.Hugh McIlvanney


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rabbled; rabbling ˈra-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce rabble (audio)

transitive verb

: to insult or assault by or as a mob

Did you know?

Rabble has been with the English language since its appearance in Middle English (as rabel) around the turn of the 15th century. The Middle English rabel (originally used to denote a pack or swarm of animals or insects) may have come from the verb rabel which meant "to babble" (despite the similarity in sound and meaning, however, babble and rabble are linguistically unrelated). The verb rabel is related to Middle Dutch rabbelen and Low German rabbeln, meaning "to speak rapidly or indistinctly" or "to chatter." So how do we get from babbling to crowds of people? The connecting link may be the idea of confusion. Rabble, in its earliest uses, could indicate a pack of animals, a swarm of insects, or a confused collection of things, in addition to 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
Below is an almost-uncontrolled rabble of second-tier fans, shoving and scuffling for their moment with the star. Arianna Di Cori, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 June 2023 His was a kind of daytime reality/talk show, starring rabble and featuring the promise of mild violence. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023 The behavior of this rabble is not surprising, rather all too typical. The Editors, National Review, 9 Feb. 2023 Many had wondered if Lewis had been locked out of the hall either because of his one-time rabble-rousing ways or because he had been known as a rocker first before transitioning into a career as a country hitmaker, but those questions have finally been put to rest. Chris Willman, Variety, 17 May 2022 Had the seat of government actually been set upon by a horned rabble? New York Times, 18 June 2021 This is beyond rabble-rousing. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, 21 Sep. 2020 That’s why despite their numbers and firepower, this rabble has often been humiliated by Ukrainian forces. Time, 7 Oct. 2022 Here, the son has run out of funds and been expelled from a brothel by an angry rabble, most likely prostitutes, wielding a broom and spear, and a guard with a sword. Dallas News, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rabble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English rabel pack of animals

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1644, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rabble was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near rabble

Cite this Entry

“Rabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabble. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a crowd that is noisy and hard to control : mob
: a group of people looked down upon as ignorant and hard to control

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