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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for riffraff
Historical Examples
  • From my window where I am writing I can see how insolent the attitude of this Mohammedan riffraff is becoming.

    The Dark Star Robert W. Chambers
  • No riffraff friend of mine, but a regular NUN—a saint—do you hear?

  • Shes in league with this riffraff element, because her brother is Hatch Walker himself, and blood is thicker than water, they say.

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

    Afloat on the Ohio Reuben Gold Thwaites
  • We are trying to digest the riffraff of the world, and can't do it, in spite of such incorrigible optimists as Judge Leslie.

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

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • "Never saw Stonebridge full of a riffraff gang like this to-day," said Withers.

    The Rainbow Trail Zane Grey
  • Where are those Cubs and Pirates and all the rest of that riffraff?

  • Here all the riffraff that had been unable to establish itself in better quarters had found some sort of a haven.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • It was easy to tell the old-timers from the riffraff of newcomers.

    Gold Stewart White
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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