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[raf-ish] /ˈræf ɪʃ/
mildly or sometimes engagingly disreputable or nonconformist; rakish:
a matinee idol whose raffish offstage behavior amused millions.
gaudily vulgar or cheap; tawdry.
Origin of raffish
First recorded in 1795-1805; raff + -ish1
Related forms
raffishly, adverb
raffishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for raffish
Contemporary Examples
  • Visiting him in his room at the raffish Chelsea Hotel, I noticed that there was a crumpled cigarette package under the bed.

Historical Examples
  • raffish and flamboyant, he lounged forward to the window of the carriage.

    A Daughter of Raasay William MacLeod Raine
  • raffish party too, spy and conspirator persuasion, that sort of thing.

    Nevermore Rolf Boldrewood
  • And oh the raffish counts and more than doubtful countesses, the noodles and the blacklegs, the good society!

  • And there are screeching Cockney women, raw and raffish, brutalized children, and men who would survive in the fiercest jungle.

    Nights in London

    Thomas Burke
  • You see, he is himself pater familias, with no Bohemian trait or raffish turn.

  • But she had an untidy, touzled, raffish appearance, due to I knew not what investiture of disrepute.

    The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne William J. Locke
  • The raffish mongrel was apparently endeavouring to fletcherize a complete stranger of the Sealyham family.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • The raffish young gentleman in gloves must measure his scholarship with the plain, clownish laddie from the parish school.

  • If they could do that, need they ever have shot that raffish old lord—I beg pardon, my dear—your highly respected grandfather?

    Erema R. D. Blackmore
British Dictionary definitions for raffish


careless or unconventional in dress, manners, etc; rakish
tawdry; flashy; vulgar
Derived Forms
raffishly, adverb
raffishness, noun
Word Origin
C19: see raff
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
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Word Origin and History for raffish

"disreputable, vulgar," 1801 (first attested in Jane Austen), from raff "people," usually of a lower sort (1670s), probably from rif and raf (mid-14c.) "everyone," from Middle English raf, raffe "one and all, everybody" (see riffraff). Related: Raffishly; raffishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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