rag·tag | \ˈrag-ˌtag \

Definition of ragtag 

2 : motley sense 2 a ragtag bunch of misfits

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Breaking Down Ragtag

Tag and rag was a relatively common expression in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was often used pejoratively to refer to members of the lower classes of society. By the 18th century, the phrase had been expanded to "rag, tag and bobtail." That expression could mean either "the lower classes" or "the entire lot of something" (as opposed to just the more desirable parts - the entire unit of an army, for example, not just its more capable soldiers). Something described as "ragtag and bobtail," then, was usually common and unspectacular. "Ragtag and bobtail" was eventually shortened to "ragtag," the adjective we know today, which can describe an odd mixture that is often hastily assembled or second-rate.

Examples of ragtag in a Sentence

a ragtag group of musicians the team was a ragtag bunch who had only one thing in common: a lack of skill

Recent Examples on the Web

On June 22, 1911, a ragtag army of leftist Mexican insurgents and American adventurers led by Gen. Jack Mosby, surrendered to Mexican federal forces, ending the occupation of Tijuana that began May 9. sandiegouniontribune.com, "June 22, 1911: The Second Battle of Tijuana," 22 June 2018 The hip-hop musical revolves around a ragtag group of friends fighting back against the evil Mr. Guy Jantic, who wants to turn their neighborhood into a parking lot. Linda Mcintosh, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Vista Boys & Girls Club gala raises $85K ...community news," 11 July 2018 Most local departments were ragtag groups, pulled together in makeshift mixtures of structure firefighters and community volunteers. Alden Woods, azcentral, "Granite Mountain Hotshots: Five years on, Dustin DeFord's family finds peace in faith," 29 June 2018 Jackson, a North Miami High alumnus, and the other players who helped fill a ragtag team early in the 1987 season went unrecognized. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "It took 31 years, but this North Miami High alum finally received his Super Bowl ring," 15 June 2018 Rogers, who populated his show with adorably ragtag puppets, used one of them, Daniel Tiger, to explain what had happened. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?," 14 June 2018 Still, Masten Space Systems is undermanned and underfunded, a ragtag bunch out in the desert, drilling and hammering and soldering in their small badlands garage down the block from the rich folk. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Rocket Man Who Wants To Beat the Billionaires," 14 Oct. 2015 Nobody expected this ragtag Cleveland outfit to give Golden State any trouble, and there Game 1 was, ready for the taking. Jason Gay, WSJ, "I Want to Give LeBron James a Hug," 1 June 2018 Hansen describes the ass-kicking of him and his ragtag team of alternative-sports specialists with the rigor of any serious sports reporter. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Best Stories We've Ever Told," 25 May 2018

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

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ragtag

ragtag and bobtail

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Statistics for ragtag

Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for ragtag

The first known use of ragtag was in 1865

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More Definitions for ragtag



English Language Learners Definition of ragtag

: made up of different people or things and not organized or put together well


rag·tag | \ˈrag-ˌtag \

Kids Definition of ragtag

: not well organized or put together The ragtag team somehow won the game.

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