See more synonyms for ragged on Thesaurus.com
  1. clothed in tattered garments: a ragged old man.
  2. torn or worn to rags; tattered: ragged clothing.
  3. shaggy, as an animal, its coat, etc.
  4. having loose or hanging shreds or fragmentary bits: a ragged wound.
  5. full of rough or sharp projections; jagged: ragged stones.
  6. in a wild or neglected state: a ragged garden.
  7. rough, imperfect, or faulty: a ragged piece of work.
  8. harsh, as sound, the voice, etc.
  9. (of a column of type) set or printed with one side unjustified; either flush left with the right side unjustified (ragged right) or flush right with the left side unjustified (ragged left).

Origin of ragged

First recorded in 1250–1300, ragged is from the Middle English word ragget. See rag1, -ed3
Related formsrag·ged·ly, adverbrag·ged·ness, noun

Synonyms for ragged

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. shabby, poor. 2. shredded, rent.

Antonyms for ragged

1. neat.


verb (used with object), ragged, rag·ging.
  1. to scold.
  2. to subject to a teasing, especially in an intense or prolonged way (often followed by on): Some of the boys were ragging on him about his haircut.
  3. British. to torment with jokes; play crude practical jokes on.
  1. British. an act of ragging.

Origin of rag

First recorded in 1790–1800; origin uncertain


verb (used with object), ragged, rag·ging.
  1. to break up (lumps of ore) for sorting.

Origin of rag

First recorded in 1870–75; origin uncertain


  1. a musical composition in ragtime: a piano rag.
verb (used with object), ragged, rag·ging.
  1. to play (music) in ragtime.

Origin of rag

First recorded in 1895–1900; shortened form of ragtime
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ragged

Contemporary Examples of ragged

Historical Examples of ragged

  • But the upper edges are ragged, torn by a wind not yet felt below.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Once more I am counting the coppers, living on the ragged edge.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • Enter Rumi-naui, torn and ragged, and covered with blood, with two attendants.

    Apu Ollantay


  • In the evening a man came, ragged and tired, looking for something to eat.


    Scian Dubh

  • As far as the eye can reach in every direction are ragged peaks and spurs.

British Dictionary definitions for ragged


  1. (of clothes) worn to rags; tattered
  2. (of a person) dressed in shabby tattered clothes
  3. having a neglected or unkempt appearanceragged weeds
  4. having a loose, rough, or uneven surface or edge; jagged
  5. uneven or irregulara ragged beat; a ragged shout
Derived Formsraggedly, adverbraggedness, noun

Word Origin for ragged

C13: probably from ragge rag 1


    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
  1. a fragmentary piece of any material; scrap; shred
  2. informal a newspaper or other journal, esp one considered as worthless, sensational, etc
  3. informal an item of clothing
  4. informal a handkerchief
  5. British slang esp nautical a flag or ensign
  6. 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


verb rags, ragging or ragged (tr)
  1. to draw attention facetiously and persistently to the shortcomings or alleged shortcomings of (a person)
  2. British to play rough practical jokes on
  1. British a boisterous practical joke, esp one on a fellow student
  2. (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


  1. a piece of ragtime music
verb rags, ragging or ragged
  1. (tr) to compose or perform in ragtime

Word Origin for rag

C20: shortened from ragtime


  1. 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 ragged

"rough, shaggy," c.1300, past participle adjective as though from a verb form of rag (n.). Cf. Latin pannosus "ragged, wrinkly," from pannus "piece of cloth." But the word might reflect a broader, older meaning; perhaps from or reinforced by Old Norse raggaðr "shaggy," via Old English raggig "shaggy, bristly, rough" (which, Barnhart writes, "was almost surely developed from Scandinavian"). Of clothes, early 14c.; of persons, late 14c. To run (someone) ragged is from 1915. Related: Raggedly; raggedness.



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.



"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 ragged


see run one ragged.


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.