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  1. a base, dishonest, or unscrupulous person.
  2. a mischievous person or animal: That child is a real rascal.
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Origin of rascal

1300–50; Middle English rascaile, raskaille < Old French rascaille rabble; perhaps akin to rash2
Related formsras·cal·like, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for rascal


  1. a disreputable person; villain
  2. a mischievous or impish rogue
  3. an affectionate or mildly reproving term for a child or old manyou little rascal; the wicked old rascal kissed her
  4. obsolete a person of lowly birth
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  1. (prenominal) obsolete
    1. belonging to the mob or rabble
    2. dishonest; knavish
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French rascaille rabble, perhaps from Old Norman French rasque mud, filth
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 rascal


mid-14c., rascaile "people of the lowest class, rabble of an army," also singular, "low, tricky, dishonest person," from Old French rascaille "rabble, mob" (12c., Modern French racaille, "the rascality or base and rascall sort, the scumme, dregs, offals, outcasts, of any company" [Cotgrave, French-English Dictionary, 1611]), perhaps a diminutive from Old French rascler, from Vulgar Latin *rasicare "to scrape" (see rash (n.)). Used also in Middle English of animals not hunted as game.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper