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

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

As part of the subsequent cover-up, Quinn is locked up with a ragtag bunch of military misfits. Keith Phipps, The Verge, "With Predator in theaters, it’s the perfect time to revisit The Monster Squad," 14 Sep. 2018 There were all his ragtag teammates, some sweaty from playing, a lot of them not, bouncing up and down with their fresh new hats on national TV. Jason Gay, WSJ, "LeBron James Can’t Do It by Himself (Or Can He?)," 28 May 2018 Clothes and Armor Braveheart indulges in some visual telegraphing of the fight between ragtag Scots and the mighty English military. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "'Outlaw King' vs. 'Braveheart': Which Movie Gets Scotland Right?," 13 Nov. 2018 The ragtag group of players, which Mumme said included an unusual number of Polynesians and others whom every other coach at every level of college football had ignored, became the turnaround story of the NAIA. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Tiny Iowa College That Changed the NFL," 23 Oct. 2018 The next morning a wrangler met and rounded up our ragtag group in the parking lot of the Rodeway Inn and then drove us up to Monument Valley. Guy Trebay, Condé Nast Traveler, "In the Heart of Navajo Lands," 19 Oct. 2018 Across the room, the merry band of children was getting ready for their big debut: as ragtag percussionists accompanying the runway show. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "These Marbleized Lips at Eckhaus Latta Are About to Become an Art-Punk Beauty Obsession," 8 Sep. 2018 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

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

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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


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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ragtag

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ragtag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ragtag

Nglish: Translation of ragtag for Spanish Speakers

Comments on ragtag

What made you want to look up ragtag? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of returning to life

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