ragamuffin

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Middle English Ragamuffyn. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: A muffin is a poor thing of a creature, a 'regular muff'; so that a ragamuffin is a sorry creature in rags.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈræɡəˌmʌfɪn/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

ragamuffin (plural ragamuffins)

  1. A dirty, shabbily-clothed child; an urchin.
  2. A breed of domestic cat which is an offshoot from the Ragdoll.

Usage notes[edit]

Currently this word is slang, used either for anachronistic effect or as dialogue in historical fiction.

Quotations[edit]

1597 1868 1877 1882 1906 1916
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1597William Shakespeare, 1 Hen IV v 3
    I have led my ragamuffins where they are peppered: there's not three of my hundred and fifty left alive; and they are for the town's end, to beg during life. (Note: Quartos 1-5 "rag of Muffins" Quartos 6-8 "rag of Muffians")
  • 1868Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Ch. 47
    “But may I inquire how you intend to support the establishment? If all the pupils are little ragamuffins, I’m afraid your crop won’t be profitable in a worldly sense, Mr. Bhaer.”
  • 1877Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
    "They called her a little `blue' ragamuffin, father," said Harry, who ran in looking very angry; "but I have given it to them; they won't insult my sister again.
  • 1882Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, Ch. 12
    'Yes, he is mine—I took him, a homeless little ragamuffin, but I saw what was in him, and I said his name would be heard some day—behold him, observe him—was I right?'
  • 1906, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, Chapter 18
    After walking a ways, Jurgis met a little ragamuffin whom he hailed: "Hey, sonny!"
  • 1916John Buchan, Greenmantle, Ch. 15
    He had found out the house of Frau von Einem without much trouble, and had performed with his ragamuffins in the servants' quarters.