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[rag-uh-muhf-in] /ˈræg əˌmʌf ɪn/
a ragged, disreputable person; tatterdemalion.
a child in ragged, ill-fitting, dirty clothes.
Origin of ragamuffin
1350-1400; Middle English Ragamoffyn, name of a demon in the poem Piers Plowman
2. waif, urchin, guttersnipe, street arab. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ragamuffin
Historical Examples
  • A mercy it was that he didn't call me a ragamuffin, Joseph said to himself.

    The Brook Kerith George Moore
  • Then he is known as the "ragamuffin," on account of his covering of rags.

    The Devil's Pool George Sand
  • He declared himself thirsty, and a ragamuffin handing him a half-empty bottle, he drank from it.

    The Peasant and the Prince Harriet Martineau
  • For this exploit the ragamuffin is lauding him to the skies.

  • Do you know, by the way, what a quaint little 316 ragamuffin philosopher that child is?

  • Playing marbles with some of your ragamuffin friends, I suppose.

    Fame and Fortune Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • It's a likely story that a ragamuffin like you would be trusted with so much money.

    Ben, the Luggage Boy; Horatio Alger
  • An artist would still have said, "How handsome that ragamuffin must have been!"

    What Will He Do With It, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The ragamuffin has luck; he takes her into his household, "society," and destroys the virgin.

    The Ego and His Own Max Stirner
  • Of course, there are some good among them, as with other ‘ragamuffin’ ramblers.

    Gipsy Life George Smith
British Dictionary definitions for ragamuffin


a ragged unkempt person, esp a child
another name for ragga
Word Origin
C14 Ragamoffyn, name of a demon in the poem Piers Plowman (1393); probably based on rag1
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
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Word Origin and History for ragamuffin

mid-14c., "demon," also in surnames (Isabella Ragamuffyn, 1344), from Middle English raggi "ragged" ("rag-y"?) + fanciful ending (or else second element is Middle Dutch muffe "mitten"). Or, as Johnson has it, "From rag and I know not what else." Ragged was used of the devil from c.1300 in reference to "shaggy" appearance. Raggeman was used by Langland as the name of a demon, and cf. Old French Ragamoffyn, name of a demon in a mystery play. Sense of "dirty, disreputable boy" is from 1580s. Cf. in the same sense ragabash (c.1600).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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