rag

1
[rag]
|

noun


Idioms

    chew the rag. chew(def 11).
    from rags to riches, from extreme poverty to great wealth: He went from rags to riches in only three years.

Origin of rag

1
1275–1325; Middle English ragge < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian, Swedish ragg coarse hair < Old Norse rǫgg
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for from rags to riches

rag

1

noun

  1. a small piece of cloth, such as one torn from a discarded garment, or such pieces of cloth collectively
  2. (as modifier)a rag doll; a rag book; rag paper
a fragmentary piece of any material; scrap; shred
informal a newspaper or other journal, esp one considered as worthless, sensational, etc
informal an item of clothing
informal a handkerchief
British slang esp nautical a flag or ensign
lose one's rag to lose one's temper suddenly
See also rags

Word Origin for rag

C14: probably back formation from ragged, from Old English raggig; related to Old Norse rögg tuft

rag

2

verb rags, ragging or ragged (tr)

to draw attention facetiously and persistently to the shortcomings or alleged shortcomings of (a person)
British to play rough practical jokes on

noun

British a boisterous practical joke, esp one on a fellow student
(in British universities)
  1. a period, usually a week, in which various events are organized to raise money for charity, including a procession of decorated floats and tableaux
  2. (as modifier)rag day

Word Origin for rag

C18: of uncertain origin

rag

3

noun

a piece of ragtime music

verb rags, ragging or ragged

(tr) to compose or perform in ragtime

Word Origin for rag

C20: shortened from ragtime

rag

4

noun

a roofing slate that is rough on one side

Word Origin for rag

C13: of obscure origin
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 from rags to riches

rag

n.

scrap of cloth, early 14c., probably from Old Norse rögg "shaggy tuft," earlier raggw-, or possibly from Old Danish rag (see rug), or a back-formation from ragged, It also may represent an unrecorded Old English cognate of Old Norse rögg. Watkins traces the Old Norse word through Proto-Germanic *rawwa-, from PIE root *reue- "to smash, knock down, tear up, uproot" (see rough (adj.)).

As an insulting term for "newspaper, magazine" it dates from 1734; slang for "tampon, sanitary napkin" is attested from 1930s (on the rag "menstruating" is from 1948). Rags "personal clothing" is from 1855 (singular), American English. Rags-to-riches "rise from poverty to wealth" is attested by 1896. Rag-picker is from 1860; rag-shop from 1829.

rag

v.

"scold," 1739, of unknown origin; perhaps related to Danish dialectal rag "grudge." Related: Ragged; ragging. Cf. bullyrag, ballarag "intimidate" (1807).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with from rags to riches

from rags to riches

From being poor to being wealthy, especially through one's own efforts. For example, The invention catapulted the scientist from rags to riches. Horatio Alger (1834–1899) popularized this theme in some 130 best-selling novels, in which the hero, through hard work and thrift, pulled himself out of poverty to wealth and happiness.

rag

In addition to the idiom beginning with rag

  • rag doll

also see:

  • chew the fat (rag)
  • from rags to riches
  • glad rags
  • run ragged
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.