Definition of ragamuffin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈraɡəˌməfən/


1A person, typically a child, in ragged, dirty clothes.
Example sentences
  • Why had she even gone with the dirty little ragamuffin?
  • ‘We turned up like little raggamuffins,’ she recalled.
  • I once met Keegan at Heathrow and he took the time out to have a talk with four ragamuffins, when some would have just walked past and ignored us.
2 (also raggamuffin) chiefly British An exponent or follower of ragga, typically one dressing in ragged clothes.
Example sentences
  • In addition to the chic sound of Paris which Solaar himself is most closely aligned to, there are groups like IAM which lead Marseille in its edgier, more recognisably ragamuffin style.
  • He has the makings of a male model underneath his ragamuffin dreads.
  • Our own raggamuffins and slow-track rhythm artistes are leading us to an uneasy future.
2.1 another term for ragga.
Example sentences
  • A distinctive musical syncretism also emerged among the Italian rap groups that pushed out the parameters of hip hop and more often than not became fused with raggamuffin reggae, dance hall, and ska influences.
  • A broad variety of musical inflections ranging from hard-core rap to reggae and raggamuffin distinguish French rap from U.S. rap and give it features more in common with British and Italian hip hop.
  • French-speaking blacks from the Caribbean launched ragamuffin - a musical form influenced by reggae and its associated musical styles - in France.


Middle English: probably based on rag1, with a fanciful suffix.

  • rag from Middle English:

    A Scandinavian word for ‘tufted’ probably lies behind rag. In lose your rag (early 20th century) ‘to lose your temper’, rag is probably an old slang term for the tongue—the phrase was originally get your rag out. This sense of rag may well be behind the student rag or prank, found from the early 19th century, and the dated verb meaning ‘to tease, play a joke on’. From rags to riches describes someone's rise from a state of extreme poverty to great wealth, as in a fairytale like Cinderella. The concept is ancient, but the phrase was not recorded until the late 19th century, when a play called From Rags to Riches was mentioned in a US newspaper. A group of people regarded as disreputable or undesirable may be described as ragtag and bobtail. Bobtail (early 17th century) was an established term for a horse or dog with a docked tail, but rag and tag (LME of unknown origin) were separate words conveying the same meaning of ‘tattered or ragged clothes’. Putting them together gives you the literal sense of ‘people in ragged clothes together with their dogs and horses’. In one traditional folk song a lady leaves her house, land, and ‘new-wedded lord’ to run away with ‘the raggle-taggle gypsies’. Raggle-taggle (late 19th century) here is an elaboration of ragtag. Similarly ragamuffin is probably an elaboration of rag. The word is found once c.1400 as the name of a devil, but then not until 1586. The 1990s term ragga for a style of dance music is taken from ragamuffin, because of the style of clothing worn by its fans. Rug (mid 16th century), once a name for a type of coarse woollen cloth, is probably from the same root. The sense ‘small carpet’ dates from the early 19th century. So too is rugged (Middle English). ‘Shaggy’ was an early sense of rugged as was ‘rough-coated’ (in descriptions of horses).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rag·a·muf·fin

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