- a worthless piece of cloth, especially one that is torn or worn.
- rags, ragged or tattered clothing: The tramp was dressed in rags.
- any article of apparel regarded deprecatingly or self-deprecatingly, especially a dress: It's just an old rag I had in the closet.
- a shred, scrap, or fragmentary bit of anything.
- something of very low value or in very poor condition.
- a newspaper or magazine regarded with contempt or distaste: Are you still subscribing to that rag?
- a person of shabby or exhausted appearance.
- a large roofing slate that has one edge untrimmed.
- 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 rag1
- to scold.
- 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.
- British. to torment with jokes; play crude practical jokes on.
- British. an act of ragging.
Origin of rag2
- to break up (lumps of ore) for sorting.
Origin of rag3
- a musical composition in ragtime: a piano rag.
- to play (music) in ragtime.
Origin of rag4
Examples from the Web for rags
In Ireland, the name of Sean Quinn will be forever linked in the public mind as the ultimate cautionary tale of riches to rags.
For every story of rags to riches, there is another of riches to rags.
A man, dressed in rags, stalks across the field, impaling the bodies with a bayonet.‘Turn,’ AMC’s New Series About America’s First Spy Ring, Is A Visually Arresting Historical Epic
April 6, 2014
Dressed in rags, a man and woman stand ankle-deep in a swamp.Django Unchained’s Bloody Real History in Mississippi
February 24, 2013
How tiresome a reverse fashion show the movie provided in rags, carbuncles, gimpy legs, and bad teeth?Why All the Hate for Les Mis?
January 7, 2013
The sky was now clear, the air frosty, and my rags were but a scant protection to me.Biography of a Slave
Rags and tidiness, filth and cleanliness, lay almost touching.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Levi's companion dropped to the sand without a sound, like a bundle of rags.Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates
All hands were called, and the rags were rolled up, and the gaskets passed.Ned Myers
James Fenimore Cooper
He was in rags, and carried the usual beggar's wallet for food or alms.Welsh Fairy Tales
William Elliott Griffis
- torn, old, or shabby clothing
- cotton or linen cloth waste used in the manufacture of rag paper
- from rags to riches informal
- from poverty to great wealth
- (as modifier)a rags-to-riches tale
- glad rags informal best clothes; finery
- a small piece of cloth, such as one torn from a discarded garment, or such pieces of cloth collectively
- (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
- to draw attention facetiously and persistently to the shortcomings or alleged shortcomings of (a person)
- British to play rough practical jokes on
- British a boisterous practical joke, esp one on a fellow student
- (in British universities)
- a period, usually a week, in which various events are organized to raise money for charity, including a procession of decorated floats and tableaux
- (as modifier)rag day
- a piece of ragtime music
- (tr) to compose or perform in ragtime
- a roofing slate that is rough on one side
Word Origin and History for rags
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).
Idioms and Phrases with rags
In addition to the idiom beginning with rag
- rag doll
- chew the fat (rag)
- from rags to riches
- glad rags
- run ragged