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[rab-uh l]
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  1. a disorderly crowd; mob.
  2. the rabble, the lower classes; the common people: The nobility held the rabble in complete contempt.
verb (used with object), rab·bled, rab·bling.
  1. to beset as a rabble does; mob.

Origin of rabble1

1350–1400; Middle English rabel (noun), of uncertain origin


[rab-uh l]Metallurgy
  1. a tool or mechanically operated device used for stirring or mixing a charge in a roasting furnace.
verb (used with object), rab·bled, rab·bling.
  1. to stir (a charge) in a roasting furnace.

Origin of rabble2

1655–65; < French râble fire-shovel, tool, Middle French raable < Latin rutābulum implement for shifting hot coals, equivalent to *rutā(re) presumed frequentative of ruere to churn up, disturb + -bulum suffix of instrument
Related formsrab·bler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rabble

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She lifted one hand in a gesture of command, and called out to the rabble.

    Priestess of the Flame

    Sewell Peaslee Wright

  • Behind these stood a rabble of some thirty others at six sous apiece.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • It is the day of the Dantons, and the Marats, the day of the rabble.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • A person of breeding choosing the cause of the rout and rabble!

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • And are these people—this rabble that you talk of—received as my papa's guests?

    That Boy Of Norcott's

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for rabble


  1. a disorderly crowd; mob
  2. the rabble derogatory the common people

Word Origin

C14 (in the sense: a pack of animals): of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Middle Dutch rabbelen to chatter, rattle


  1. Also called: rabbler an iron tool or mechanical device for stirring, mixing, or skimming a molten charge in a roasting furnace
  1. (tr) to stir, mix, or skim (the molten charge) in a roasting furnace

Word Origin

C17: from French râble, from Latin rutābulum rake for a furnace, from ruere to rake, dig up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rabble


c.1300, "pack of animals," possibly related to Middle English rablen "to gabble, speak in a rapid, confused manner," probably imitative of hurry, noise, and confusion (cf. Middle Dutch rabbelen, Low German rabbeln "to chatter"). Meaning "tumultuous crowd of vulgar, noisy people" is from late 14c.; applied contemptuously to the common or low part of any populace from 1550s.


iron bar for stirring molten metal, 1864, from French râble, from Old French roable, from Latin rutabulum "rake, fire shovel," from ruere to rake up (perhaps cognate with Lithuanian raju "to pluck out," German roden "to root out").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper