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 rabbling (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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since then, Lai's role as one of Hong Kong's most prominent rabble-rousers has threatened his fortune, subjected him to death threats and made him a symbol of the city's tensions with mainland China. Jenni Marsh, CNN, "Why pro-democracy troublemaker Jimmy Lai is the only Hong Kong multi-millionaire standing up to China," 27 Aug. 2019 With The Conservative Sensibility, George Will takes a stand amid the rabble. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Conservative Sensibility Is George Will’s Definitive Declaration," 20 June 2019 In these cases, the threat of mob violence, or the simple fact of a mob demand, is sufficient to get those with power to act as the mob wishes, to do the mob’s dirty work for it and thereby relieve the rabble of the exertion of a riot. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Crowder Isn’t a Threat to Public Safety," 6 June 2019 William Ackman, once an omnipresent rabble-rouser, is barely visible these days. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "After Suffering Bruising Losses, Ackman Pursues Quiet Recovery," 21 Mar. 2019 Social media turns national debate into an angry brawl and divides Americans into howling rabbles that tote smartphones instead of pitchforks. James A. Baker Iii, WSJ, "John McCain and the Dying Art of Political Compromise," 29 Aug. 2018 Small wonder then that M.I.A, one of music’s most celebrated rabble-rousers and a face of Burberry’s holiday campaign, was invited to perform, taking to the stage a little before midnight. Vogue, "Miley Cyrus and Ezra Miller Join Riccardo Tisci to Celebrate Burberry’s Collaboration With Vivienne Westwood," 9 Dec. 2018 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

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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Statistics for rabble

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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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
: 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on rabble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rabble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rabble

Spanish Central: Translation of rabble

Nglish: Translation of rabble for Spanish Speakers

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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