rag·​a·​muf·​fin | \ ˈra-gə-ˌmə-fən How to pronounce ragamuffin (audio) \

Definition of ragamuffin

: a ragged often disreputable person especially : a poorly clothed often dirty child

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Did You Know?

If you’ve guessed that rag or ragged is related to ragamuffin, you may be correct, but the origins of the word are somewhat murky. In Middle English the term functioned both as a surname and generically to denote a ragged and sometimes stupid person, and in the Middle English alliterative poem Piers Plowman William Langland used the word to serve as the name of a demon. The muffin part of ragamuffin may have its origin in either of two Anglo-Norman words for a devil or scoundrel, but that too is uncertain. No matter its muddied history: the word has continued to develop in modern times. It can also refer to a type of music with rap lyrics and a reggae beat, a meaning that can be found at Merriam-Webster Unabridged.

Examples of ragamuffin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When the Rams built up street cred as the ragamuffins from Fort Collins who never, ever backed down from a fight. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "Alexander Johnson a future All-Pro? One former Broncos star thinks so.," 21 Oct. 2019 This world teems with joyous Lower East Side ragamuffins, outfitted by costume designer Carol Sorensen. Hugh Hunter, Philly.com, "'Newsies' at Media Theatre teems with energy," 14 May 2018 Baker’s new exploitation mode includes lurid, nursery-school pastels and ragamuffin kids who curse, vandalize, and set fires. Armond White, National Review, "Blade Runner 2049 : The Politics of Hollywood Hacks," 6 Oct. 2017 And Derek Klena as cavalier hunk and all-around ragamuffin Dmitry. Diana Bruk, Seventeen, ""Anastasia" Is Coming to Broadway And The First Images Are Breathtaking," 30 Aug. 2016 While still in his teens, Pacino became one of the ragamuffins loitering outside the HB Studio on Bank Street in Greenwich Village, waiting for acting class to start. Jimmy Breslin, Esquire, "The Oddfather," 20 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ragamuffin.' 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 ragamuffin

1581, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ragamuffin

Middle English Ragamuffyn, name for a ragged, oafish person

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Time Traveler for ragamuffin

Time Traveler

The first known use of ragamuffin was in 1581

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Cite this Entry

“Ragamuffin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ragamuffin. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce ragamuffin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ragamuffin

somewhat old-fashioned : a child who is dressed in rags and is usually dirty and poor


rag·​a·​muf·​fin | \ ˈra-gə-ˌmə-fən How to pronounce ragamuffin (audio) \

Kids Definition of ragamuffin

: a poorly clothed and often dirty child

More from Merriam-Webster on ragamuffin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ragamuffin

Nglish: Translation of ragamuffin for Spanish Speakers

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