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[rif-raf] /ˈrɪfˌræf/
people, or a group of people, regarded as disreputable or worthless:
a pack of riffraff.
the lowest classes; rabble:
the riffraff of the city.
trash; rubbish.
worthless, disreputable, or trashy.
Origin of riffraff
late Middle English
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.

    My Adventures with Your Money George Graham Rice
  • A throng of the riffraff of the Street swarmed in front of the building.

    My Adventures with Your Money George Graham Rice
  • Where are those Cubs and Pirates and all the rest of that riffraff?

  • Ample proof, however, exists that they were but the riffraff of the Order.

  • It was easy to tell the old-timers from the riffraff of newcomers.

    Gold Stewart White
  • All the world had turned to California; its riffraff and offscourings as well as its true men.

    Gold Stewart White
  • If he was of the riffraff of the streets, as his companions were, he was somehow different.

    The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett
British Dictionary definitions for riffraff


noun (sometimes functioning as pl)
worthless people, esp collectively; rabble
(dialect) worthless rubbish
Word Origin
C15 rif and raf, from Old French rif et raf; related to rifler to plunder, and rafle a sweeping up; see rifle², 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
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Word Origin and History for riffraff

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.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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