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rib·​ald ˈri-bəld How to pronounce ribald (audio)
 also  ˈri-ˌbȯld,
: marked by coarseness or lewdness : crude, offensive
ribald language
ribald humor
: characterized by or using coarse, indecent humor
a ribald memoir/song


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: a person coarse or lewd in appearance, speech, writing, or thought : a ribald person
Choose the Right Synonym for ribald

coarse, vulgar, gross, obscene, ribald mean offensive to good taste or morals.

coarse implies roughness, rudeness, or crudeness of spirit, behavior, or language.

found the coarse humor of coworkers offensive

vulgar often implies boorishness or ill-breeding.

a loud vulgar belch

gross implies extreme coarseness and insensitiveness.

gross eating habits

obscene applies to anything strongly repulsive to the sense of decency and propriety especially in sexual matters.

obscene language not allowed on the air

ribald applies to what is amusingly or picturesquely vulgar or irreverent or mildly indecent.

entertained the campers with ribald folk songs

Examples of ribald in a Sentence

Adjective some of the movie's most ribald, and thus funniest, scenes were cut for showing on broadcast television a ribald tale rife with double entendres and racy innuendo
Recent Examples on the Web
Much of the dialogue is hilariously ribald, especially in a locker room scene in which the two nude men share a tender familial embrace after comparing penises. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 June 2023 The couple became a symbol of marital stability in the freewheeling rock world, even as Charlie drummed for a band that was the most famously ribald band in music history. Jem Aswad, Variety, 19 Dec. 2022 Eight years ago that original, decidedly more ribald version, was a surprise hit with gay men. Rod Stafford Hagwood, sun-sentinel.com, 14 Oct. 2020 But, Brigman found, the men in Stieglitz’s scene often belittled the subject, ogling and making ribald jokes. Sarah Blackwood, The New Yorker, 11 May 2020 But Beforeigners eschews the supernatural, and the campier teen soap elements, to deliver a thoughtful, moving, and often quite ribald and funny tale of various worlds colliding. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 21 Feb. 2020 Later, Society members on the city commission pulled funding from a chamber-of-commerce event, citing concerns about an allegedly ribald country-and-western band. Emma Green, The Atlantic, 12 Dec. 2019 The Los Angeles artist, known for her ribald depictions of middle-aged men and babies (and baby men) wreaking all manner of havoc (bodily and otherwise), is presenting a series of paintings and videos. Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2019 The Los Angeles artist, known for her ribald depictions of middle-aged men and babies (and baby men) wreaking all manner of havoc (bodily and otherwise), is presenting a new series of paintings and videos. Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2019
A little ribald teasing would be plenty to incite the rough-and-tumble street fight that proceeds Romeo and Juliet’s clandestine exchange of vows. Rebecca Ritzel, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2024 Only a dose of ribald, good-natured caretaking from one of Choton’s interview subjects, a kothi trans woman named Shou (the delightful Tashnuva Anan), keeps him from floundering. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024 Almost immediately, the video went viral, attracting fans of adult animation, Broadway musicals and ribald comedy who, based on the comments and other online reactions, were charmed by the project’s original voice and punky, carefree style. Calum Marsh, New York Times, 22 Jan. 2024 Moran, who is 48 and who first made her mark in the early 1990s as a wunderkind music journalist for British publications, has published four ribald and emotionally honest books of nonfiction and two novels since then and has continued to work as a columnist at The Times of London. David Marchese David Marchese Photograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Early legendary armies assault gutsy ribald hippies’ lapels. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2023 Their ribald interactions prove genuinely funny at times, especially in a scene in which Xander takes his white privilege for granted while provoking a racist cop. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Aug. 2023 Angela gets on well with her subjects, usually parting ways on a ribald joke — every encounter is studded with gags and anecdotes that range in tenor from juvenile to profound: Romanian dictator Ceausescu fixing football contests. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 7 Aug. 2023 His irresistible, multiplatinum earworms dominated the rap charts in the early ’00s and cemented him as a Dirty South rap icon—his knack for polysyllabic rhymes and ribald humor offering a lighter counter to the gritty trap largely defining southern rap at the time. Gerrick Kennedy, Men's Health, 1 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ribald.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English ribaud person of low status, scoundrel, lecher, from Anglo-French, from Old French riber to be debauched, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German rīban to be in heat, copulate, literally, to rub

First Known Use


circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ribald was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near ribald

Cite this Entry

“Ribald.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ribald. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: marked by or using coarse or indecent language or humor
ribald jokes

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