[ mob ]
/ mɒb /
Save This Word!

of, relating to, or characteristic of a lawless, irrational, disorderly, or riotous crowd: mob rule; mob instincts.
directed at or reflecting the lowest intellectual level of the common people: mob appeal; the mob mentality.
verb (used with object), mobbed, mob·bing.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of mob

First recorded in 1680–90; short for Latin mōbile vulgus “the movable (i.e., changeable, inconstant) common people”


Other definitions for mob (2 of 3)

[ mob mohb ]
/ mɒb moʊb /

noun Digital Technology.
(in a video game) a hostile nonplayer character that the player may target and fight.

Origin of mob

First recorded in 1980–85; coined by British video game developer Richard Bartle; shortening of mobile (in the sense “a moving sculpture hung from the ceiling”)

Other definitions for mob (3 of 3)


mother of the bride.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does mob mean?

A mob is an unruly and often violent group of people, especially one engaged in a riot or other lawless violence.

Some mobs organize intentionally to engage in violence and destruction, but sometimes people assemble spontaneously and turn into a mob, such as in reaction to some event. Because people who have massed together in such a way typically don’t follow any formal leadership or string of command, mobs are known for getting out of control and engaging in chaotic, unpredictable, and often violent behavior.

Sometimes, the word refers to a large group of people acting in an aggressive or hostile way in a virtual space, as in Don’t post that unless you want to feel the wrath of the social media mob. 

This sense of mob is often used as a modifier (adjective) to describe things carried out by mobs or involving mobs, as in mob violence and mob rule.

Like the word riot, the word mob is sometimes intentionally used inaccurately to portray groups in a negative way when this characterization is not warranted. For example, an opponent of a protest might call a group of peaceful protesters a mob as an attempt to discredit the protesters and their message.

The word mob can also be used as a verb meaning to assemble in large numbers or crowd around someone or something, especially in an unruly way, as in Holiday shoppers mobbed the store as soon as it opened or The star is mobbed by photographers every time she leaves her house. A place or person who has been crowded in this way can be described with the adjective mobbed.

As a verb, mob can also mean to attack as a mob, as in Wave after wave of rebels mobbed the embassy. 

Mob is sometimes used as a noun in a more figurative way to collectively refer to common people or the masses, in which case it is typically preceded by the, as in His campaign platform is too subtle to win over the mob. This sense of the word often implies that the common people lack sophistication, intelligence, or are otherwise base and crude. This is what’s implied in the phrase mob mentality, which refers to a mindset motivated by the basest human instincts.

Much more specifically, organized crime groups known as the Mafia are sometimes also referred to as the Mob. A member of the Mob can be called a mobster.

Example: Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of a mob is that the group and the people in it have passed the point of being able to be reasoned with.

Where does mob come from?

The first records of the word mob come from the 1680s. It comes from a shortening of the Latin phrase mōbile vulgus, meaning “the movable common people,” in which moveable means something like “changeable” or “fickle.” The phrase implies that the common people can be easily swayed, as opposed to having firm and unchanging beliefs.

Most senses of the word mob still imply this sense of unpredictability. Groups considered mobs are often associated with hostility and a tendency for violence and destruction that gets more out of control as more people become part of the mob. Psychologists study mobs to better understand how and at what point a group of people turn into a mob. The goal of such study is to understand the reason why people begin to take part in the kind of violent and destructive behavior that they might not otherwise engage in if they were simply by themselves.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to mob?

  • mobbed (past tense verb, adjective)

What are some synonyms for mob?

What are some words that share a root or word element with mob

What are some words that often get used in discussing mob?

How is mob used in real life?

Mob has several different meanings, but it is most often used in a negative way.


Try using mob!

Is mob used correctly in the following sentence?

The senator was mobbed by reporters asking him to comment on his vote.

How to use mob in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mob (1 of 2)

/ (mɒb) /

verb mobs, mobbing or mobbed (tr)
See also mobs

Derived forms of mob

mobber, nounmobbish, adjective

Word Origin for mob

C17: shortened from Latin mōbile vulgus the fickle populace; see mobile

British Dictionary definitions for mob (2 of 2)


abbreviation for
mobile phone
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