Definition of raffish
1 : marked by or suggestive of flashy vulgarity or crudeness
2 : marked by a careless unconventionality : rakish
raffish was our Word of the Day on 03/04/2011. Hear the podcast!
Examples of raffish in a sentence
the dowager cringed at the thought of raffish tourists in rough boots tromping all over her Persian rugs
Did You Know?
Raffish sounds like it should mean "resembling raff." But what is raff? Originally, "raff" was a word meaning "rubbish"; it derived from Middle English "raf," and it was being used for trash and refuse back in the 1400s. Around a century later, English speakers were also using the word riffraff to mean "disreputable characters" or "rabble." The origins of "riffraff" are distinct from the "rubbish" sense of "raff"; "riffraff" derived from an Anglo-French phrase meaning "one and all." By the mid-1500s, the similarities between "raff" and "riffraff" had prompted people to start using the two words as synonyms, and "raff" gained a "rabble" sense. It was that ragtag "raff" that gave rise to the adjective "raffish" in the late 1700s.
First Known Use of raffish
RAFFISH Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of raffish for English Language Learners
: not completely acceptable or respectable but interesting and attractive
Seen and Heard
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