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 Conceived by rabble-rousing populist governor Huey Long, the 1932 building is a 34-story art deco skyscraper, the country’s tallest state house and a monument to the Kingfish’s Kong-sized ego. Andrew Nelson, WSJ, "A Deliciously Diverting Road Trip Through the Deep South," 23 Apr. 2021 Judge Cahill made his remarks about Congresswoman Waters’s rabble-rousing upon the renewal by defense counsel Eric Nelson of Chauvin’s motion for a mistrial based on prejudicial publicity and jury intimidation. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Chauvin Trial Judge: Maxine Waters Just Put the Case in Jeopardy," 19 Apr. 2021 Also joining that year was Firefly’s executive chairman, digital health rabble-rouser Jonathan Bush (who’s also Rotenberg’s husband). Katie Jennings, Forbes, "This Startup Raised $40 Million To Build A ‘Mini-Kaiser Permanente’ And Lower Employee Healthcare Costs," 7 Apr. 2021 The Chronicle, which had been a mainstream Republican outlet but now went all in on the rabble-rousing demagogue. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. had its own demagogue who capitalized on racist grievances," 19 Feb. 2021 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

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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Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabble. Accessed 16 May. 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

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