clothed in tattered garments: a ragged old man.
torn or worn to rags; tattered: ragged clothing.
shaggy, as an animal, its coat, etc.
having loose or hanging shreds or fragmentary bits: a ragged wound.
full of rough or sharp projections; jagged: ragged stones.
in a wild or neglected state: a ragged garden.
rough, imperfect, or faulty: a ragged piece of work.
harsh, as sound, the voice, etc.
(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)

1250–1300; Middle English ragget. See rag1, -ed3

raggedly, adverb
raggedness, noun

1. shabby, poor. 2. shredded, rent.

1. neat.
Dictionary.com Unabridged


2 [rag] Informal.
verb (used with object), ragged, ragging.
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.

1790–1800; origin uncertain


3 [rag]
verb (used with object), ragged, ragging.
to break up (lumps of ore) for sorting.

1870–75; origin uncertain


4 [rag]
a musical composition in ragtime: a piano rag.
verb (used with object), ragged, ragging.
to play (music) in ragtime.

1895–1900; shortened form of ragtime

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rag1 (ræɡ)
1.  a.  a small piece of cloth, such as one torn from a discarded garment, or such pieces of cloth collectively
 b.  (as modifier): a rag doll; a rag book; rag paper
2.  a fragmentary piece of any material; scrap; shred
3.  informal a newspaper or other journal, esp one considered as worthless, sensational, etc
4.  informal an item of clothing
5.  informal a handkerchief
6.  slang esp (Brit) nautical a flag or ensign
7.  lose one's rag to lose one's temper suddenly
[C14: probably back formation from ragged, from Old English raggig; related to Old Norse rögg tuft]

rag2 (ræɡ)
vb , rags, ragging, ragged
1.  to draw attention facetiously and persistently to the shortcomings or alleged shortcomings of (a person)
2.  (Brit) to play rough practical jokes on
3.  (Brit) a boisterous practical joke, esp one on a fellow student
4.  in British universities
 a.  a period, usually a week, in which various events are organized to raise money for charity, including a procession of decorated floats and tableaux
 b.  (as modifier): rag day
[C18: of uncertain origin]

rag3 (ræɡ)
1.  a piece of ragtime music
vb , rags, ragging, ragged
2.  (tr) to compose or perform in ragtime
[C20: shortened from ragtime]

rag4 (ræɡ)
a roofing slate that is rough on one side
[C13: of obscure origin]

ragged (ˈræɡɪd)
1.  (of clothes) worn to rags; tattered
2.  (of a person) dressed in shabby tattered clothes
3.  having a neglected or unkempt appearance: ragged weeds
4.  having a loose, rough, or uneven surface or edge; jagged
5.  uneven or irregular: a ragged beat; a ragged shout
[C13: probably from raggerag1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1310, probably from O.N. rogg "shaggy tuft," earlier raggw-, or possibly from O.Dan. rag (see rug), or a back-formation from ragged (c.1300), which is from O.N. raggaðr "shaggy," via O.E. raggig "rag-like." It also may represent an unrecorded O.E. cognate of O.N. rogg.
As an insulting term for "newspaper, magazine" it dates from 1734; slang for "tampon, sanitary napkin" is attested from 1930s. Rags "personal clothing" is from 1855, Amer.Eng. Rags-to-riches "rise from poverty to wealth" is attested from 1947. Ragtop "convertible car" is from 1955. Raghead, insulting term for "South Asian or Middle Eastern person," first attested 1921.

"scold," 1739, of unknown origin; perhaps related to Dan. dialectal rag "grudge."

"rough, shaggy," c.1300, from rag (n.), but earliest use is not directly from the main sense of that word and may reflect a broader, older meaning. Of clothes, early 14c.; of persons, late 14c. Raggedy Ann doll first attested 1918.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

rag definition

  1. n.
    a newspaper. : What a rag! It's only good for putting in the bottom of bird cages!
  2. n.
    ugly or badly styled clothing; an ugly garment. : I can't wear that rag!
  3. n.
    any clothing, even the best. (Always plural.) : Man, I got some new rags that will knock your eyes out!
  4. n.
    a sanitary napkin; a tampon. (For use in the menstrual cycle. Usually objectionable.) : God, I've got to change this rag!
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see run one ragged.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Its edges are tattered and torn, ragged yet recognizable.
Their apparel is the same ragged, long-worn motley as before described.
Within a minute or two, the breath comes in ragged gasps and it seems
  impossible to draw enough air into the lungs.
Remove plants in summer if they begin to look ragged.
Idioms & Phrases
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