Definition of ribald in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈribəld/
Pronunciation: /ˈrīˌbôld/


Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way: a ribald comment
More example sentences
  • Stories rich in erotic or scatological suggestion can elicit ribald laughter as well.
  • When is a bawdy, ribald tale of a wanton wench and her very naughty sexual adventures as boring as a trip to the Field Museum to watch dinosaur bones fossilize?
  • Not so much among the Catholic faithful and people favorably disposed to the Church, but among the general public the positions and pronouncements of bishops will for years to come be met with ribald comments about clerics and little boys.


Middle English (as a noun denoting a lowly retainer or a licentious or irreverent person): from Old French ribauld, from riber 'indulge in licentious pleasures', from a Germanic base meaning 'prostitute'.

  • This was first used as a noun for a ‘lowly retainer’ or a ‘licentious or irreverent person’. It comes from Old French ribauld, from riber ‘indulge in licentious pleasures’, from a Germanic base meaning ‘prostitute’. It became an adjective in the early 16th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rib·ald

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