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

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: Noun There couldn’t be a better 420 spokesman than Killer Mike, a rabble-rousing political activist and astute businessman whose actual birthday falls on April 20, which makes for a hearty double celebration every year. Roy Trakin, Variety, 20 Apr. 2022 In its opening stretch, the film chronicles how over several years this handsome, charismatic lawyer, with his piercing baby blues and gift for rabble-rousing, became the sharpest, most visible thorn in Putin’s side. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2022 And the answer, according to the website animalsandenglish.com, is that groups of butterflies may be referred to as a flight, a flutter, a kaleidoscope, a rabble, a shimmer, a swarm, and a wing. Steven Litt, cleveland, 9 Jan. 2022 Darren Linvill, the lead researcher at Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub, said the sites have struggled to gain attention because their focus on right-wing rabble-rousers has pigeonholed them into one side of the American political debate. Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2022 Odd Future emerged as a rabble-rousing crew with an iconoclastic motif that rankled older listeners while beguiling younger ones. Marcus J. Moore, EW.com, 13 Jan. 2022 One-time rabble-rouser Nivellen brings up stories of their old adventures together; how is the hard-drinking Geralt now a dad? Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, 17 Dec. 2021 How about a flying coach who doesn’t teach you how to be a pilot but how to mix with the rabble? Brian Moylan, Vulture, 28 Nov. 2021 The dogs of war were baying, bloody chaos was let loose, And high above the rabble rose a scaffold and a noose. John Lithgow, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabble. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for rabble


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

Nglish: Translation of rabble for Spanish Speakers


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