Definition of riff-raff in English:
- The reason that we bought these seats is because we don't want to be bothered with the general riff-raff.
- They let in all sorts of riff-raff here, don't they?
- While I think programs and materials for the gifted are fine and good, I worry about meetings like this in which the dominant sentiment is that the only way to educate the gifted is to remove them from the company of mere mortal riff-raff.
rifle from Middle English:
The Old French rifler meant both ‘to plunder’ and to ‘to scratch’. The plunder sense developed via ‘search for valuables’ into ‘to search thoroughly’ (mid 17th century). The word was then re-borrowed from French in the ‘scratch’ sense for the making of grooves in the barrel of a gun (mid 17th century). These rifled guns then became known as rifles (mid 18th century). Riff-raff (Middle English), formerly written as riff and raff, is probably also from rifler combined with raffler ‘to carry off’. The sense ‘disreputable person’ would have developed in much the same way as vulgar and hoi poloi.
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