1 : ragged, unkempt
2 : composed of diverse often incongruous elements : motley
Did You Know?
"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.
Despite fielding a ragtag collection of players unwanted by other teams, the Barons finished the season with a winning record.
"The U.S. Army teaches every recruit about Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, by Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the Prussian general under George Washington who established the standards and training that allowed the ragtag Continental Army to defeat the greatest military force of its day." -- From a letter by Arthur Reilly published in The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 2011
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name that Synonym
Fill in the blanks to create a word that is a synonym of "ragtag" and can also mean "spotted with two different colors": p _ _ b _ _ d. The answer is ...
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