ragtag

adjective
rag·​tag | \ ˈrag-ˌtag How to pronounce ragtag (audio) \

Definition of ragtag

2 : motley sense 2 a ragtag bunch of misfits

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 ragtag 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 The duo are accompanied by a ragtag team of crew members who are voiced by Taika Waititi and Dale Soule. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Apr. 2022 The three-hour show, understandably, had some ragtag moments given the last-minute changes, but there were plenty of strong performances to keep fans tuned in. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 11 Apr. 2022 This would not be a continuation of the Irish fight with the Royal Constabulary and the ragtag Black and Tans that Collins had constantly disrupted and killed with his inventive tactics. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 11 Mar. 2022 The militia began as a ragtag unit that was later formally admitted into the regular armed forces of Ukraine as part of the National Guard. Alan Cullison, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 Centered around a ragtag hockey team, the first The Mighty Ducks movie was released in 1992 and starred Estevez as Coach Gordon Bombay, along with Joss Ackland, Lane Smith, Josef Sommer, Joshua Jackson and Elden Henson. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, 24 Jan. 2022 On the show, Gregory is a famous venture capitalist who gives a ragtag crew of developers their first seed funding. Moira Weigel, The New Republic, 20 Dec. 2021 Week after week, a ragtag crew of hateful cultists gathers near the governor’s house in Swampscott, their giant Trump flags, and sometimes the Confederate banner, flapping in the ocean breeze. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Dec. 2021 Such was the collective response that a year later, over afternoon tea at the Black Swan, a hotel in the Herefordshire town of Leominster, a ragtag group of a few dozen cyclists gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Rough Stuff Fellowship. Tom Vanderbilt, Outside Online, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of ragtag

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ragtag

ragtag and bobtail

Learn More About ragtag

Listen to Our Podcast About ragtag

Dictionary Entries Near ragtag

ragstone

ragtag

ragtag and bobtail

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ragtag

Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ragtag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ragtag. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ragtag

ragtag

adjective
rag·​tag | \ ˈrag-ˌtag How to pronounce ragtag (audio) \

Kids Definition of ragtag

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

More from Merriam-Webster on ragtag

Nglish: Translation of ragtag for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!