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 Now, the prospect of the rabble-rousing Meloni taking power seems more likely than ever. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 26 July 2022 Their rabble-rousing and demonizing style of politics had seemed to be in retreat after the pandemic and its economic fallout put a high premium on the competent governance personified by Draghi. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, 21 July 2022 That kind of disingenuous rabble-rousing is no more a substantive reason for its failure than was First Man’s soft box office due to Ted Cruz retweeting a false controversy about the Damien Chazelle flick lacking in onscreen American flags. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 25 June 2022 To muster a cohesive battalion out of such a polyglot rabble, and do so before what most analysts predicted would be a swift Russian victory, seemed all but impossible. Seth Harp, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 Desperate Morena supporters even tried to get up a rabble to block opposition legislators physically from entering the chamber. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, 1 May 2022 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 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

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rabble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabble. Accessed 15 Aug. 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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