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riffraff

[rif-raf]
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noun
  1. people, or a group of people, regarded as disreputable or worthless: a pack of riffraff.
  2. the lowest classes; rabble: the riffraff of the city.
  3. trash; rubbish.
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adjective
  1. worthless, disreputable, or trashy.
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Origin of riffraff

1425–75; late Middle English rif and raf every particle, things of small value < Old French rif et raf, formed on rifler to spoil (see rifle2), raffler to ravage, snatch away
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for riffraff

Historical Examples

  • Both in town and country, the riffraff of the houseboat element are in disfavor.

    Afloat on the Ohio

    Reuben Gold Thwaites

  • We'll destroy Marsport before we'll give in to a doped-up crowd of riffraff!

    Police Your Planet

    Lester del Rey

  • No riffraff friend of mine, but a regular NUN—a saint—do you hear?

  • It brought to the scene a mixed throng of the riffraff of the camp.

  • A throng of the riffraff of the Street swarmed in front of the building.


British Dictionary definitions for riffraff

riffraff

noun (sometimes functioning as plural)
  1. worthless people, esp collectively; rabble
  2. dialect worthless rubbish
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Word Origin

C15 rif and raf, from Old French rif et raf; related to rifler to plunder, and rafle a sweeping up; see rifle ², raffle
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 riffraff

n.

also riff-raff, late 15c., from earlier rif and raf "one and all, everybody, every scrap," also "sweepings, refuse" (mid-14c.), from Old French rif et raf, from rifler "to spoil, strip" (see rifle (v.)). Second element from raffler "carry off," related to rafle "plundering," or from raffer "to snatch, to sweep together" (see raffle (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper