rag·time | \ˈrag-ˌtīm \

Definition of ragtime 

1 : rhythm characterized by strong syncopation in the melody with a regularly accented accompaniment in stride-piano style

2 : music having ragtime rhythm

Examples of ragtime in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Joplin was forgotten, and ragtime became an obscurity of Americana. Alex Vadukul, New York Times, "The Forgotten Entertainer Rag," 24 May 2018 The ten-person cast sings well to the accompaniment of an offstage chamber quartet, and Doyle's music evokes Gilded Age Chicago with waltzes and ragtime pieces as well as delicate art songs in the manner of Ned Rorem and Samuel Barber. Albert Williams, Chicago Reader, "There's no devil in Burnham's Dream: The White City, only music," 14 June 2018 Though the score evokes spirituals, jazz, folk songs, ragtime and Dixieland, the elements of musical theater came through most strongly in this performance, led with brio by Stephen Lord. New York Times, "A Soldier’s Racially Charged Suicide Becomes a Powerful Opera," 13 June 2018 In 2011, arranger/pianist Scott Bradlee formed Postmodern Jukebox around a simple yet ingenious concept: Perform beloved contemporary songs (Adele, The White Stripes, etc) in the style of vintage genres, such as ragtime and swing. Scott Bradlee, Billboard, "Scott Bradlee Shares How Postmodern Jukebox Got Him Fired From Walmart: Exclusive 'Outside the Jukebox' Book Excerpt," 7 June 2018 Composer Schachter describes the music as a blend of early-20th-century jazz and ragtime, African-American spirituals, and his own compositional language. Terry Byrne, BostonGlobe.com, "Paulus’s 10th season to include a revue of ART’s greatest hits," 21 May 2018 What do ragtime and stride piano, two early forms of jazz, have to do with the Cuban rhythm also known as the tango? Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Review: Tapping Out Some New World Rhythms," 5 Mar. 2018 With acts curated by Subterranean, among the artists gracing the stage across the two-day fest are indie veterans Guided by Voices, local rockers Ratboys and ragtime revivalists Pokey LaFarge. Efrain Dorado, RedEye Chicago, "5 must-see Chicago concerts this week: JEFF the Brotherhood, Temples, Kopano," 27 July 2017 This spectacle is all about bringing the past to life – that means you’ll be immersed in the time period with a ringmaster, newsies, carnival-like performances and a ragtime band to fill Mahall’s with music. cleveland.com, "20 things to do in Cleveland the weekend of May 3-6," 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ragtime.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ragtime

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ragtime

probably from ragged + time

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ragtime

Statistics for ragtime

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ragtime

The first known use of ragtime was in 1896

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ragtime



English Language Learners Definition of ragtime

: a type of lively music that is often played on the piano and that was very popular in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century


rag·time | \ˈrag-ˌtīm \

Kids Definition of ragtime

: music that has a lively melody and a steady rhythm like a march

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ragtime

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


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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